Sometimes it is a thankless job, but Monday has been set aside to recognize school bus drivers.
Across the state, residents can thank those behind the wheel as part of School Bus Driver Appreciation Day.
Bus drivers are vital to the safety and success of the district’s students, according to Fostoria City Schools Superintendent Andrew Sprang.
“They’re the first members of the district that the students see on a daily basis and the last ones to see them at night,” he said. “We should show how much we appreciate them for the safe transportation of our kids.”
In 2002, the Ohio Legislature designated the first Monday in May as School Bus Driver Appreciation Day to “increase public recognition of the important function that school bus drivers serve in safely transporting children to and from school,” according to ODE.
The Fostoria school district has 14 full-time drivers, eight on-call drivers, a supervisor and a mechanic who are all certified to drive a bus. They transport roughly 852 students over four counties, according to FCS transportation supervisor Brian Whitta.
Statewide, school bus drivers transport more than 900,000 students daily, traveling one million miles per day to accomplish that task, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
“People come from neighboring school districts because they recognize that this is a good place to work,” Whitta said, adding that the district’s most senior driver has been working with the transportation department since 1988. “There’s really good longevity here and they all work as one unit to ultimately keep the students safe.”
Fostoria City School district drivers include full-time drivers, Alicia Swartzmiller, Brenda Rumschlag, Joe Snyder, Claudia Tate, Sue Senn Coleman, Tina Cook, Rob Brookman, Ed Filliater, Lisa Riser, Gerd Scott, Gary Magrum, Dan Coppus, Brendie Yerkes and Lisa Huss; sub drivers include Michelle Bishop, Ellen Lowery, Jon Hay, Sandy Jurrus, Terrie Litton, Lynnlee Myers, Katie Smith and Joe Souder; mechanic, Mark Stratton; and Whitta. Cindy Sidle is secretary of the transportation department.
“They’re often overlooked as the unsung heroes for us in the district,” Sprang said. “They have a great impact on our kids, as well, and their efforts are appreciated. They do a great job with our kids, getting them to and from school safely.”
In addition to transporting students to school and back home, the drivers must conduct daily check ups of the buses before and after taking them out on the road. These inspections include fluid level checks, a three-part air break check, visual light check and an operational inspection that informs the driver of any differences or problems while driving.
Drivers also must be alert and aware of not only the behavioral status of the children on the bus, but the decisions of other drivers and the weather conditions, Whitta said.
The school bus safety record is unsurpassed, greatly exceeding that of automobiles, commercial buses and passenger trains, according to ODE.
All 24 certified bus drivers in the district treat the students on their buses as if they were their own kids and make decisions acting in the best interest of them, according to Whitta.
“They’re really a special group of people because they take that approach in dealing with every single kid, no matter what neighborhood or background they come from,” he said. “They’re our unsung heroes, the face of our school district and they do a really great job.”
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