Who is our school bus driver?
Many students, their family members and other folks in our community have often asked, “Who are those people who drive a school bus?” Furthermore, how are they qualified and what training do they have? About one out of every three students, about 900 hundred of our Sequim Public School enrollees, is hauled around by “those people.”
Do you care about the well-being of a third of our school kids? If so, read on.
Some school bus drivers also work as professionals, with many successfully retiring from highly skilled professions. This years’ list of school bus driver career experiences includes teachers, homemakers, loggers, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force ranking and non-commissioned officers, county commissioner, wildlife biologist, Navy nuclear mechanic, musicians, treatment foster parents, vehicle mechanics, contractors, disc jockey, lifeguard, surgical technician, national author, columnists, magazine editor, college faculty instructor, master scuba divers, computer resource manager, security officers, store managers, police officers, addictions counselor, firefighter, horticulturist and caregivers.
Many of “those people” are still raising their kids, grandkids and even great grandkids. There is a blend of 54 percent women, 46 percent men. Their school bus driving experience averages seven years. Okay, but how are they qualified to haul our kids from home to school and back again each school day, during summer school and on about 200 after school activity trips each year?
The initial criterion for a school bus driver is a desire to care for kids and drive a school bus. After finger-printing and a comprehensive background check, all hopeful drivers must complete 50 or more hours of specialized schooling, driving and testing.
Then, they must qualify and test for a Washington state commercial driver’s license specializing in school bus transportation and safety — which, by the way, is ranked the safest of all vehicle licensures.
Additionally, they trained for and maintain certification for first aid and CPR, are required to pass annual physicals and are randomly drug tested throughout the year.
Hopefully when we next notice a school bus, we feel confident our kids are safely cared for and in highly capable hands. Oh, and maybe give “those people” a wave of thanks.
Editor’s note: Scott is a Sequim School District bus driver.