Wow! Where to start? There are so many things to be said when discussing the importance of a good working relationship between a school district and contractor.
Being flexible and able to accept change and growth and able to make the necessary adjustments to meet the ever changing needs of the school district, definitely helps foster a healthy relationship between the contractor and the school district. Contractors need to work with the school districts by looking ahead and planning for different issues that could possibly arise from growing districts and the impact of budget cuts.
Customer service is one of those things that is always mentioned, but not always put into action. From a customer service perspective, the role of the contractor is to make student transportation as easy as possible for the school district at both the district office level and school level. This is accomplished in many ways, for example, working positively with parents, good communications with the schools and effective driver training.
A trustworthy and content group of drivers and office staff, striving to keep a positive attitude is also important to the relationship between the district and the contractor. Things run more smoothly when employees enjoy their job and feel they are a part of the team. Consistent and honest treatment of customers, administrators, office staff, teachers, students and parents is important. When the district sees and experiences this, their confidence in the student transportation system is increased, which should give the district confidence regarding the safe transportation of the district’s students.
Unity, mutual respect and communication are additional keys to a successful relationship between the district and the contractor. When it comes to policy and procedures, each entity should have a good grasp of the other one’s goals in transporting students safely to and from school. Having rules and guidelines that mirror each other as closely as possible should be the goal. This is possible when the contractor and district work closely together as a team, forming a strong link in the circle of communication.
Both entities can be successful when they work together and support each other as issues arise. For example, if a driver is having behavior issues with a student and needs to call a parent and discuss the issue with the parent, it’s important for the contractor to also contact the school. This gives the school a chance to analyze the student’s behavior at school compared to the behavior on the bus. It also gives the school a chance to be supportive and back the contractor and driver if a parent calls with a complaint.
Another example of the importance of communication is if a driver is having trouble with a student or a group of students on the bus and there are no issues at school, the contractor can then focus on the bus ride to narrow down the problem. There are times when part of the problem is the way the driver is handling things on the bus. Realization of this comes more quickly because of the communication between school and contractor. This communication also reduces the chance of any unfair treatment of a student or driver.
In summary, as the contractor, we should remember that ultimately it is our job to support the wishes of the district and do what is asked of us. For example, if the school makes reasonable requests, such as, asks us to seat a student in an assigned seat, it should be done without question. If we are to have a good working relationship, we must cooperate willingly with the district.
So in the big picture, the better our relationship with the district, the easier it will be to act as one in the eyes of the public. When both the contractor and district depend on each other to run things safely and honestly, they become a well-oiled machine, and are successful in helping each other with problems that arise. Unified, we are stronger and things run smoother. When the public sees this relationship, it not only looks professional, but also brings a strong sense of security in the safe transportation of the students. In the end, isn’t that why we’re here?