HomeOperationsSuperintendent Snapshot: Transportation, Administration Demonstrate Strong Working Relationship at Georgia District

Superintendent Snapshot: Transportation, Administration Demonstrate Strong Working Relationship at Georgia District

Ahead of the Superintendent of the Year being named at the National Conference on Education in San Diego, California, School Transportation News sat down with those in charge of transportation operations at the respective districts to gain a better understanding of how the services function.  

The next district profiled is Dublin City Schools in Georgia, located about an hour drive southeast of Macon, where Dr. Frederick Williams is the superintendent and one of the four finalists for the award being presented on Feb. 15.

Williams and Transportation Director John Strickland have a relationship dating back 30 years to the football field, where they both served as coaches for the district. Strickland said they came through the ranks together as administrators. Since then, Strickland said Williams has challenged him with different positions within the district, “which has only made me better as an administrator as well as a person,” Strickland said.

John Strickland, jumping, and Frederick Williams, right, coached together at Dublin City Schools 30 years ago.

Strickland added that when Williams became the superintendent in 2015, the district was in a “bad place.”

“Red, a deep dark color of red, was our financial story,” he added, sharing that at the time Dublin City Schools looked destined to fail and be absorbed and run by Laurens County.

Instead, the school district under Williams’ leadership rallied.

“In Dublin, that’s not how we roll,” Strickland said. “We push our sleeves up and we go to work even harder. With his leadership, he listened to specialists in our system and led the development of a plan that not only moved our budget to a beautiful glossy black, but it changed the way our community began to look at us again.”

Strickland added that Williams started initiatives such as the Irish Gifted Academy charter school and the College and Career Academy. Plus, he noted that Dublin High Schools has one of the highest graduation rates in the state. Williams’ High Achievement and Success for All Students strategy map is something that Strickland said use and apply every goal with actionable steps to the transportation department.

“As he leads us, he reminds us that if we can’t make an initiative line up with our strategy map, then we don’t need it,” Strickland said. “This man bleeds green and gold. He believes in our system. He believes in our schools. He believes in the people taking care of our students. He believes in our students, and he even believes in me. He is Superman for our system. He is the base of the upside-down pyramid. He supports it all … His passion for life, education, and our school system will bring him to tears, literally. He loves this place, and I am proud of his accomplishments and proud he is my friend.”

Superintendent Dr. Frederick Williams of Dublin City Schools in Georgia

Williams added that being named a Superintendent of the Year finalist is a once in a lifetime opportunity. “I’m proud to have the chance to represent the students, staff and families that make up Dublin City Schools on the national stage,” he said. “This recognition speaks to the work we’ve been doing day in and day out to reach our goal of high achievement and success for all students.”

Transportation Operations

Dublin City Schools buses travel 23 routes, transporting a total of 1,350 students to and from school each day. Strickland added that drivers log 298,800 miles yearly. He noted that one project transportation and the greater district is working on is a literacy initiative, which includes a transformed MCI charter Bus into the district’s Big Green Reading Machine (BGRM.)

“The BGRM makes appearances at schools, daycares and community events, and even goes through downtown Dublin during the three parades held in our community each year,” Strickland said. “The BGRM offers opportunities for students/children to come into the bus and be read to or allows each to come into the bus to read their own book. Our system officials are along for the ride and even give out books to all children so they can take a book home to read.”

Additionally, transportation is preparing to move into a facility this summer. Strickland said Williams worked extremely hard to find transportation a new place that would accommodate its growing transportation needs.

Another initiative that Williams discussed was the use of transportation to launch a shuttle service that transports families from their homes to campuses and back to attend parent teacher conferences. He explained that Dublin City Schools experienced a steep drop-off in the number of families attending parent-Teacher conferences because of a lack of transportation options.

In terms of technology, Strickland said that the transportation department uses Transfinder for its bus routing and is currently working on moving data filing and sharing to the cloud. Additionally, Dublin City staff use a two-way radio system and have three different camera systems on their buses.

The Superintendent of the Year Award is sponsored by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, along with Corebridge Financial and First Student to celebrate contributions and leadership of public school superintendents.

 

This year’s four finalists were selected from 50 state superintendent award winners and were 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 2024 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. 15 in San Diego, California during the National Conference on Education.

Their largest product is the AngelTrax camera system, which provides five cameras inside the bus, a windshield camera facing the road, and two stop-arm cameras. Dublin City School buses also have three Pro-Vision cameras along the side of one bus, a windshield camera and two stop-arms cameras, plus three REI video systems which provide cameras on the side, windshield and stop-arms as well.

“It was very important to us to get cameras down the sides of our inside because, with the new high safety seat backs, it is very hard to see the small elementary students with the older traditional front-to-back cameras that used to be the way all cameras were set up,” Strickland said. “This new formation of cameras allows us to see down in the seats and we can shut down any rough behaviors before they become habit.”

Working Relationships with Transportation, Administration

Williams said building a strong working relationship with transportation operations is essential.

“Our bus drivers are the first smiling faces our students see in the morning, and they’re the last staff members to offer them words of encouragement in the evening,” he said. “They play a key role in student safety and well-being while also prioritizing a streamlined logistical process that upholds our commitment to providing safe and reliable transportation services for all students. Through collaboration and effective communication, we can better address challenges, optimize resources, and ultimately enhance the overall educational experience for our students.”

Strickland too said having a relationship with administration is essential to providing for the safety, health and well-being of the students served. “Most administrators are sought after for being able to find solutions,” he said. “They look past the problem to find a way to make something work.”


Related: Finalists for 2024 Superintendent of the Year Announced
Related: Superintendent Snapshot: Transportation ‘Critical’ to Success of Saint Paul, Minnesota Students
Related: Georgia Student Struck and Killed by Passing Vehicle


In terms of Williams understanding and addressing the needs of transportation, Strickland said he listens, he is present at transportation gatherings and allows transportation to make decision that need to be made to run an efficient department such as financial awards, luncheons and celebrations.

“He listens to our needs and looks to find ways to help us get those needs taken care of,” Strickland said. “He understands that the transportation department is the first greeter of students each day and that we, the drivers and monitors, need to be in the right frame of mind to greet each child with a positive start to the day. He knows that if we have what we need, it creates the positive vibe needed to make our children’s morning start off the way it should.”

Strickland added the department feels respected when the superintendent attends gatherings.

“He always ends his remarks by telling all of our Dublin City staff members that he loves us and there is nothing we can do about it,” Strickland said. “This alone helps bring a family atmosphere to our department as well as the entire school system.”

Editor’s note — School Transportation News features a school district and superintendent finalist in the days leading up to the Feb. 15 announcement of the winner at the National Conference on Education. Next up is Tomball Independent School District in Texas and Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora.

June 2024

Read this month's magazine for a in-depth look at school bus fleet electrification. Learn more about how to plan...

Buyer’s Guide 2024

Find the latest vehicle production data and budget reports, industry trends, and contact information for state, national and federal...
Advertisement

Poll

Is training mechanics on high-voltage electric school buses a priority heading into the new school year?
70 votes
VoteResults
Advertisement