Child safety is the first priority
Washington Community School District (WCSD) will begin classes Tuesday morning and some students will be traveling to school on school buses.
Last week, Washington transportation director Woody Harden and Washington Superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen met with the bus drivers to review information about the routes.
“Usually, we have about 700 students who ride our buses [in the Washington Community School District],” Harden said.
The WCSD transportation department also oversees transportation for the WACO Community School District, Harden said. There are 12 bus drivers in the WCSD that cover 12 routes. In the WACO School District there are six bus drivers covering six routes.
The WCSD transportation department oversees 29 buses and 17 commuter vans for both schools, Harden said.
The first priority for bus drivers is child safety, Jorgensen said.
“One of the things I tell them [the bus drivers] is they’re usually the first person the kids sees in the morning, so sometimes they can determine the mood of the kid right off the bat,” he said.
The bus drivers make sure the students are being safe when traveling to and from school on the bus, Jorgensen said.
“I mean not running around the bus and sticking their heads and arms out of the bus windows,” he said. “Things like that.”
To help with student safety, buses are equipped with video cameras, Jorgensen said. Sometimes these cameras catch a motorist passing the school bus while it’s stopped, which is against the law and reported immediately.
“If the stop arm is extended and a car goes around it, we don’t have a choice—we’re required by law to report that,” Jorgensen said. “Sometimes you get a complaint from someone saying ‘Why did you turn that in?’ It’s like, first off, ‘Well, we don’t have a choice. Second, it’s a safety danger to our kids.’ ”
In March 2012, Gov. Terry Branstad, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Web site, signed Senate File 2218, which is also known as Kadyn’s Law. Kadyn Halverson was a 7 year-old child who was struck and killed while crossing a road to board a school bus in Halverson. This law makes it illegal for a motorist to pass a stopped school bus.
Another added safety feature is the stop arm length has been extended, which is something that has happened within the last couple of years, Jorgensen said.
At the end of each day bus drivers are required to walk from the front to the back of the bus to make sure students aren’t on the bus still, he said.
“You’d be surprised how often that happens,” Jorgensen said. “The bus would pull in and all of a sudden there’s a kid in the back seat sleeping or whatever; so the driver is required to walk through the bus to make sure there isn’t someone there.”