At the end of the last school year in June, our mangers informed us that the district had decided to reformat the transportation routes and go with staggered bell time through out the district.
In doing this, they would be reorganizing the routes to accommodate this new change and cut out many as much as ten or more full time routes. The process would then be to rebid all of the routes, starting from the top to the bottom on the seniority list.
With this news followed many emotions from the drivers in my district. We felt loss, anger, confusion and betrayal. Our emotions were very real, and we felt that they were disregarded due to the district's needs to cut cost, not realizing how it was going to effect all of us and how was management was going to handle it.
They didn’t prepare us or our the management team for the upcoming year as far as what to expect emotionally. For me, this was a summer of a long emotional depression and sadness. I had driven many of these students for 10 years plus on my route. I knew their parents, sibling and even grandparents. I took this every hard. I didn’t realize how hard until I was garage sale hunting in that area one day this summer break and I broke into tears as I drove down the same street I had for 10 years in my bus. This was a forced change on me that I have not taken well.
So, two weeks before school started we were given 15 minutes to pick a route. We got to come in on our own time and look at all the route changes. Then we could decide on what we were going to bid on in our 15 minutes. I did get a route that still had my high school students and two other parts from old routes I had driven in the past.
As for the first day of school, Oh Lord, what a cluster! Many people had to change routes and didn’t know the new areas, plus the route sheets that were given to them didn’t have the correct information. To say the least, the radio was full of non-stop talking, and many buses were late to the schools. Even now, a week later, there are many routes that are still not right.
Many of the drivers are stressed out by not getting to school on time, missing students, making wrong turns, etc.! So much makes perfect sense to the “educated big wigs downtown” on paper as far as the numbers goes but when it comes down to you implementing it...Oh please give me a break! We are the ones on the road dealing with parents, students, teachers and principles plus all of the other people on the road! Whose wonderful idea was this?
The positive side to all this is that I make more money, since I am on the road 7.5 hours instead of 4.5 hours. My students that I used to have appreciate me more now that they have someone else driving them. Yes, I still drive out of the same school so I see my elementary students everyday still :) and today I found a whole roll of Oreo Cookies on my bus. I would like to think of it as a sign / treat for all the emotional distress that I have gone through with all of the restructuring the district has done here at transportation.
I wish all of my fellow drivers patience and safe driving...this, too, shall pass!
Christe Smith is a school bus driver for the Olympia School District in Olympia, Wash. She has been enjoying driving a bus for the past 10 years and has experienced many events that she has decided to share with the rest of the STN readers. You may also view her blog at Life as a School Bus Driver.