SALAMANCA — Safety on school buses is the number one priority for the transportation department in the Salamanca City Central School District, and they’re looking to recognize students who demonstrate that importance.
At the June 18 Board of Education meeting, members of the district’s transportation department presented on a new program, Warriors Ride with Pride, which the department has implemented to have a greater focus on safety on the bus and for the students.
Christy Osgood, one of the bus drivers who led the presentation, said the program would recognize one student per school each month for demonstrating exceptional safety on the bus. The student could be nominated by either the driver or monitor.
“This could mean helping clipping up seatbelts, making sure seat belts aren’t in the aisle or confronting bad behavior,” she said. “If behavior has improved from day one to now, we want to reward the students.”
Osgood said there is a box at the bus garage where monitors and drivers can submit nominations. When a student wins, they receive a t-shirt, a letter sent home, a gift card to McDonald’s and their picture taken with either the bus driver or the school resource officer.
“There are a few kids who have already got shirts because they have shown above and beyond safety on the school bus,” she said. “The kids are really excited.”
Starting in September, the department also has plans to implement safety for students at Prospect Elementary School.
“We have been working really hard the past few weeks to get something for Prospect,” Osgood said. “We feel that Prospect is where we need to focus the biggest on safety.”
At Open House, the department plans to have a table set up with plenty of information on bus safety. Osgood said the parents can also meet the drivers and ask any questions they may have about the procedures.
Before school begins, the drivers will be doing pre-runs as well as emergency bus drills so the parents are aware of what is expected of the kids during the year. Once school begins, Osgood said the department would like to do some lessons in the classroom.
“We have some materials for Officer Steve and a couple of us to go into the classroom and teach the kids different things and do projects with them,” he said. “We’ll do some hands-on things, like building school buses and showing them the danger zones.”
Also starting in September, the department will begin recognizing a Safest Bus of the Month. Students on that bus will receive goodie bags and the driver and monitor will receive a special item with the Warriors Ride with Pride and Safest Bus logos on them.
For the rest of the district, Osgood said they want to show the community what the drivers do to keep the kids safe on the bus. In October, the department will be participating in Bus Safety Week, as well as continuing a focus throughout the month.
Preliminary plans have weeks focusing on getting ready for school and walking to the bus, waiting at the stop and getting on and off the bus, mobile devices and items not allowed on the bus.
Concerning mobile devices, Osgood said headphones can be a hazard if students can’t hear.
“It’s very important for them to keep one headphone out and one headphone in so they can hear the bus, they can hear cars, if the bus needs to beep the horn,” she said.
Osgood said the district can help by having other departments and staff in the schools encourage positive behavior in students and reiterate safety, participate in regular bus drills and have adults be good role models while on the bus.
“Not being on your cellphone when trying to watch the students and sitting in the seat the right way like you’re supposed to,” she said were examples teachers or staff could set.
The presentation also included some data on how a school bus is safer than a car when transporting kids to school as well as some ways in which the drivers and garage staff help maintain a level of safety.
In the garage, Osgood said they have emergency drills, bus inspections, routes than minimize crossing the street and new technology to manage the fleet. For the drivers, they are encouraged to post rules, ensure the bus is clean and teach students to cross the street safely, among other things.
“We’re hoping with this program, we can have a lot more safety going on,” Osgood added.