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passionate educators working together to empower all students to succeed. And when I say educators, I mean every single employee of 4J—from custodians to payroll clerks, cafeteria staff to technology assistants, bus drivers to teachers, and everyone in between.” However, even as an award-winning superintendent,


Balderas doesn’t put himself above any job or task. He understands the ins-and-outs of transportation and even goes the distance to drive routes early in the morning, during inclement weather days. While he said he has the final decision on whether school is canceled or delayed, he respects the opinion of Director of Transportation Chris Ellison, and wants to make that call with him. “To do my job well, I need to have on-the-ground


awareness of every component of the school system,” Balderas noted. “This includes school bus transportation, which plays a critical role in providing equitable access to education. It’s similar thinking when making the dif- ficult decision to change the school schedule because of inclement weather.” Balderas added, “I am very cognizant of the challenges


that decision will cause for many of our families. I work side-by-side with our facilities crew, getting first-hand knowledge of the conditions, to make the best decision for our families and staff.”


Even with the national school bus driver shortage plaguing the district, due to an ultra-competitive local marketplace, Balderas remains hopeful. He said 4J strives to make itself a caring, quality workplace to attract and retain talent. “We provide bus drivers training and support in a


cohesive team environment,” explained Balderas, who takes his leadership to Edmonds School District in Washington state as the new superintendent next school year. “We value our bus drivers as front-line educators and recognize the critical role they play in our students’ academic experience.” That team environment isn’t inclusive to only school


bus drivers, but to the entire workforce at 4J. Balderas works to ensure compassion, mentoring, innovation and success among educators and students alike. Like many employees at 4J, Ellison had nothing but


positive things to say about his superintendent to School Transportation News in February. “Truly, I am so proud to have him as my superintendent, as my ultimate boss and as the leader of our school district.” ●


Read more about Gustavo Balderas and the three other finalists for this year’s Superintendent of the Year award at stnonline.com/tag/superintendent.


IN PARTNERSHIP WITH


School Transportation Association of Indiana


SPECIAL NEEDS TRAINING


about something BIGGER.


TSD CONFERENCE & STN EXPO INDY COME TOGETHER. June 4-9 | Indianapolis, IN


JUNE 4-5


www.stnonline.com 25 EXPO Indy_20_Fractionals_MM0420.indd 3 3/19/20 11:42 AM


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