Magazine honors school district for bus-tracking tool, safety training, green fleet
The Houston Independent School District’s Transportation Department recently was named a recipient of District Administration magazine’s 2014 Districts of Distinction award.
Districts of Distinction is a new national recognition program created by the publication to honor school districts that are demonstrating education excellence with innovative approaches and ideas that work.
HISD was recognized for three of its programs, including the School Bus Tracker, Safety and Security School Bus Training, and Greening the School Bus Fleet. Out of 130 competitive applicants, the district is one of 49 honorees that have demonstrated innovative and effective new ideas dedicated to educational excellence.
“The HISD Transportation Department works to improve lives and build trust in our community by providing exceptional service that creates a safe and caring environment,” said Nathan Graf, HISD’s general manager of Transportation. “All three of our projects achieved this goal. Our green fleet keeps pollution down, compelling training keeps children safe, and our school bus tracker keeps campus administrators informed.”
The department unveiled the School Bus Tracker in October, allowing parents, administrators, and students to easily track bus arrival and departures times. The computer program provides an arrival-and-departure screen tool and works in conjunction with the buses’ GPS to indicate if a bus is delayed because of traffic or other conditions. The application also can be viewed on a smartphone device.
HISD also took measures to ensure the safety of students and drivers on its buses. During the 2012-2013 school year, the district pushed its Safety and Security School Bus Training program, in which bus drivers and attendants were trained to handle situations that may arise on the school bus.
During the program, in-house safety trainers learned American Red Cross First Aid and CPR, and took courses in crisis prevention to train over 1,000 school bus drivers and attendants. As a result of the safety and security training, the number of student incidents on buses decreased, and drivers and attendants reported feeling safer on the job.
HISD also was recognized for the Greening the School Bus Fleet program. The district secured almost $3 million in grants to purchase propane-powered buses and a fueling station. Propane buses now have near zero harmful emissions and are about 70 percent cheaper to operate than are traditional buses. About 90 percent of the district’s buses are now biodiesel and 10 percent propane, and all 1,000 buses have been converted from diesel to biodiesel, almost 75 percent cleaner than diesel and developed from renewable sources.
“I am extremely proud of this recognition and all of the hard work of each team member within the Transportation Department,”said HISD Chief Operating Officer Leo Bobadilla. “The team’s dedication to educational excellence and innovative ideas is a prime example of our commitment to service excellence.”