As a kid, Jephte Mondesir loved watching “The Magic School Bus,” a popular animated children’s television show featuring an eccentric teacher who took her students on educational adventures via a magic bus.
The ex-New Yorker and 10-year Texan loved watching the teacher, known affectionately as Miss Frizzle, transport her science class to new worlds.
He loved it so much, in fact, he knew he wanted to do the same.
“I wanted to operate that bus in real life,” Mondesir said with a laugh. “I just knew that the school bus was an important part of education. In fact, all the real ones truly are.”
A 22-year veteran bus driver, Mondesir now serves as a response team operator for the Houston Independent School District’s Transportation Services department. He is among a select group of drivers who work with department leaders to solve manpower issues and recruit new drivers.
The Houston Independent School District is hosting a job fair this weekend to find candidates to fill several key operational support positions, including bus drivers, custodians, mechanics, HVAC technicians and grounds crews.
Interested individuals should attend the Business Operations Job Fair from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 26, 2021, at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, 4400 West 18th St.
Transportation Services is hosting more than a dozen job fairs over the next four months to recruit new bus drivers in preparation for the 2021-2022 school year.
Though no decisions have been made about next year, the department is ramping up recruiting efforts to prepare for the possibility of transporting more students this fall. Bus service was limited during the 2020-2021 school year due to physical distancing restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Houston Independent School District is celebrating school bus drivers this week as part of School Bus Driver Appreciation Week, which launches Monday, Feb. 8.
For bus drivers, safety has always been a top priority. Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, that hasn’t changed — but the ways they go about it have.
Armed with assorted cleaning supplies and backpack-style sprayers filled with hospital-quality disinfectant, crews gather every Friday and Saturday to thoroughly disinfects every surface of every bus used that week.
“We make sure everything is safe,” said Tyrick McCoy, a response team operator for Transportation Services and member of the bus sanitization team.
On the rare occasion that Houston temperatures drop to freezing, it’s not just people who may struggle to get going in the morning. HISD schools and buses need extra time to warm up, too.
But for every cozy classroom or bus ride, there is a team that has braved the weather in the dark and early morning hours to make learning environments comfy and safe for students’ arrival.
They are the cold-start crews – the ones who are called in when temperatures drop to 32 degrees and below.
When HISD closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
bus driver Althea McWhorter never got the chance to say goodbye to the seniors
who rode her bus every day for four years.
For someone who thoroughly enjoys getting to know her passengers as she drives them to and from school each day, losing the chance to say goodbye was not easy. But she’s hoping this year will be different.
Armed with new bus safety measures and a duffel bag of
disinfecting supplies, McWhorter was ready to welcome a new group of students
returning this month for in-person instruction.
Transportation Services is
finalizing bus routes for eligible riders who have indicated to the
district they plan to return for in-person learning and preparing to notify
parents of assigned routes next week.
bus service will be limited when in-person instruction resumes on Oct. 19 due
to physical distancing and its impact on bus capacity. Under the
Communicable Disease Plan, buses will run at half capacity with just 26
accommodate the reduced capacity, bus service will be limited to special
education, homeless, elementary, and specialty school students. Service also
may be provided for some students in middle school as well as those who live
along high-risk routes if resources are available.
Though most HISD students are starting school virtually,
Transportation Services was back on the road on Sept. 8, providing student
shuttle service to and from 36 digital learning centers across the district.
Strategically located across the district, digital learning
centers provide students without technology access a place to complete their
daily virtual lessons during the district’s online-only first six weeks of
Students who have been previously identified as needing
technology will be assigned to a select center, based on the location of their
home school. Once assigned, the home school will provide parents with their
student’s bus stop and pick-up and drop-off times.
Six curbside summer meals sites and all Fresh Bus produce delivery stops have been canceled for Thursday, June 4, following a confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus.
The six summer meals sites closed on Thursday include Bastian,
Foster, Shearn, Thompson, and Whidby, and R. P. Harris elementary schools. All
other scheduled summer meals sites will remain open.
The temporary closure will allow for deep cleaning and
sanitization of affected schools and district facilities. Fresh Bus produce
delivery and the curbside summer meals site at R. P. Harris Elementary School are
expected to resume normal operations on Monday, June 8. The remaining five
school sites are expected to reopen Thursday, June 18.