School: Turkeyfoot Middle School, Edgewood, KY
Advisor: Terry Chinn
Every weekday during the school year, school transportation systems in the United States operate approximately 440,000 yellow school buses to provide safe and reliable transportation for more than 24 million school-aged children. Although there are a variety of safety issues in student transportation, those regarded as the most critical included the behavior of passengers both on the bus and while loading and unloading. In addition, there appears to be growing concern regarding security and violence issues on the school bus and at bus stops. The YCW program has been active in promoting a Bus Safety program that stresses that buses are an extension of the classroom and, with that, behaviors should coincide with those that are expected within the school building.
While identifying the main problems associated with bus safety, it became apparent that the behavioral habits of students changed with the transfer from school grounds onto the bus. Students believed that they were out of school, and therefore allowed the freedom to act the way they wanted to – all without consequences. Our goal was to transfer the behavioral expectations of school onto the bus. We implemented our YCW Bus Safety program with the help of SRO Terry Chinn at Turkeyfoot Middle School, our most successful site for bus safety.
Implementing this program would not come easy. It not only requires participation from the school administration, but also from the bus drivers. Realistically, the key to this program’s success actually rests on the bus drivers. Simply put, the drivers would implement a behavior system similar to that of the schools. Conduct expectations should flow from the time the students enter the bus in the morning, to the time they exit the bus in the afternoon. This program requires the drivers to be responsible for reporting both positive and negative actions on a regular basis and communicating any behavioral infractions to the school. A weekly reporting system between the drivers and the school administration is optimal. All demerits/infractions (or whatever term for discipline may be used) would be instituted. These infractions would then be dealt with in the same manner as would inappropriate behavior on school grounds. The guidelines for this program were not only shared with the students, but also sent home in a detailed letter to each parent.
There was an overwhelming show of support for this program between both the bus drivers and the school administration. Often, the communications regarding improper behavior on the buses would get lost in transition, but with the implementation of this program, the mandatory reporting system assures that the right information is received by the proper channels. In addition, the students began to realize that there would be consequences for their behavior both traveling to and from school. The principles of this program – to be safe, be respectful and be responsible seem to resonate with the students, and the overall key of student safety seems to be succeeding.