HomeOperationsSnapshot: Transportation Operations Under Superintendent of Year Finalist From New York

Snapshot: Transportation Operations Under Superintendent of Year Finalist From New York

Ahead of the awarding of Superintendent of the Year at the National Conference on Education this week in San Antonio, Texas, School Transportation News sat down with those in charge of transportation operations at the respective districts that represented to gain a better understanding of how the services function.

Brighton Central Schools – Rochester, New York

The Brighton Central School District contracts out 100 percent of its transportation operations to various partners. Louis Alaimo, the assistant superintendent for administration, said First Student runs its morning and afternoon routes, as well as summer and charter services. Brighton also utilizes Transpo for out-of-district specialized transportation services and partners with Monroe 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services to transport students to center-based educational programs.

Alaimo added that 54 drivers are contracted for the morning routes and 60 for the afternoon, as well as 13 bus monitors. Transportation routes students to four Brighton schools, eight in-district private schools and more than 20 out-of-district private and parochial schools, transporting 3,700 public and private school students about 280,000 miles per year.

The Superintendent of the Year Award is sponsored by AASA, The School Superintendents Association along with CoreBridge Financial and First Student to celebrates contributions and leadership of public school superintendent. This year’s four finalists were selected from 50 state superintendent award winners and are judged based on their exhibited leadership for learning, communication, professionalism and community involvement. A $10,000 college scholarship will be presented in the name of the 2023 National Superintendent of the Year to a student at a high school the winning superintendent graduated from or from the school district the winner now leads. This year’s award will be announced on Feb. 16 in San Antonio, Texas.

Alaimo explained that on any given day, the district could be short eight to 13 drivers, with no access to spare drivers. “This requires daily reallocation of resources and impacts services,” he said. “The driver shortage contributes to delays in [afternoon] pickup for our out-of-district runs and high school/middle school students. We regularly combine and extend runs to cover for the high absentee rate and pervasive driver shortages. Our contract transportation providers are doing their best at continuous recruitment and New York state is attempting to alleviate some of the barriers to licensure for new drivers.”

Alaimo added that the relationships and open communication with the school and central office are essential to developing contingency plans that help minimize the impact to students and families. He noted that when the district needs to hold a bus to combine or double-up runs, transportation relies on buildings to have plans for adequate student supervision.

Plus, Brighton relies heavily on its Transfinder routing systems and its Zonar GPS technology to monitor the location and timing of school buses as well as mass communication systems efficiency communicate delays to families.

“In addition, when it comes to matters of student discipline, we rely on our administrators to assist in the development of behavior plans to ensure all students are safe during their bus trip,” Alaimo added. “Lastly, we rely on the superintendent to consistently enforce the transportation rules and procedures put in place by our director to be consistent with walk distance and routing strategies allows for efficiency and consistency.”

The district also relies heavily on cameras and audio located throughout contracted school buses for increased safety.

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He added that because the state of New York is “aggressively pursuing the implementation” of electric buses, the district is engaging in studies to understand the impact on routing and school infrastructure the electric school buses will have.

District Superintendent Dr. Kevin McGowan also works with Alaimo and the transportation department to understand both the impact of transportation and the opportunities for how a successful system can support students and their learning. “We actively consider how to utilize efficiencies in the system and our caring transportation staff to provide additional runs and stops so that all students have access to programs before and after school,” Alaimo relayed.

McGowan added that the district is appreciative of the work the drivers and transportation staff do. “We quite literally couldn’t do what we do with students if it wasn’t for their heroic and caring effort,” he said.

McGowan noted that being named a finalist is a tremendous honor. “This is absolutely about the collective we and not about me,” he said. “From my perspective, this honor means that we’re on the right track and that our work as a team to close gaps in achievement between groups of students is working and that the results are apparent to others.”

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