in stone for this type of situation,” Mehaffy shared. “It’s a lot easier if you have procedures in place. Plus, it puts parents’ minds at ease if they know what we are going to do with their children in those situations.” Besides the district plan, Mehaffy said each school campus

has its own individual plan. For example, students are evac- uated to a safe structure, large enough to hold that entire school’s student population. In contrast, the emergency response plan used by Eugene School District 4J in Oregon has been in place for at least 15 years, estimated Chris Ellison, director of transportation and fleet services. “Every office and every classroom in the district has a copy of the crisis response plan hanging on the wall near the entry door,” Ellison commented. “It’s a spiral bound flip chart with legal-size sheets of paper. Each sheet is color- coded and covers a different topic.” The plan covers fire, earthquake, gas leaks and power

outages among other incidents. “Pretty much every cri- sis you can think of is addressed in the plan,” he explained. “Each sheet gives instructions on what to do, how to do it and when to do it as well as pertinent contact information, such as 911 first and foremost, and the contact numbers of district personnel. The way it’s laid out is very useful and easy to read. And it’s designed for both adults and students.”

Planning & Implementation Unlike the results to the superintendents survey, transporta-

tion directors were enthusiastic in their response to a concurrent STN survey that asked them to identify areas of concern that could create problems. Nearly all identified the effects of driver shortages, which have been cited as a main reason why some less-qualified and even lower-performing drivers have remained employed. It’s one reason why the industry was criticized in a January series by USA Today and Stateline on drunk and impaired school bus drivers. Some bus drivers with checkered driving records and physical ailments have also been involved in catastrophic school bus crashes and fires. Mehaffy said Burlington does not waiver from its hiring

procedure, which requires a thorough screening. “We have enough route drivers, we just don’t have enough substitute drivers to cover in case someone is sick,” Mehaffy com- mented, echoing a common concern shared by readers nationwide. “There is never a comfort zone, you always need drivers. We run background checks, drug and alcohol screenings. Drivers do not get hired until they go through background checks and the Iowa Department of Transporta- tion drug screen and physical.” Other risk factors that require more attention at the dis- trict level, according to the director survey, included student


What school bus risk issues do your superintendent or school administration specifically direct your department to minimize or eliminate?

• 71% Onboard student behavior • 63% School bus crashes • 59% Effects of driver shortages

• 58% Overcrowding/ routing issues

• 50% Compliance with training

• 50% School bus vehicle maintenance

• 48% School bus stops

• 47% School bus vehicle inspections

• 47% Driver oversight/monitoring (certification, alcohol/drug testing)

• 35% Bus attendant oversight/ monitoring

• 6% Other (Stop-arm violations, crossing guard training, etc.)

(Out of 187 responses. More than one answer was allowed. Total does not equal 100.) 37

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