Bethany Aurin: Reply to bus safety

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We are writing in response to a derogatory letter about school bus safety ("School bus safety," Krista Andress) printed in the May 13 Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Please take a moment and imagine driving a 32,000-pound vehicle on snow-packed and icy roads with priceless cargo of incomprehensible value. You likely have at least one college degree and numerous years of experience as a "highly paid professional," but you opt to contribute to children's safety while living in this beautiful valley. Each day, you spend your work day with 70 students, often in treacherous weather, shuttling them safely and skillfully with one of the best safety records in the state. Frequently, this 16-ton vehicle has to avoid inattentive drivers that seem to think talking on their cell phone is more important than paying attention to stop signs, young children on the roadsides or big yellow vehicles.

Now, stop imagining and realize that this is the daily responsibility of all school bus drivers in the Steamboat Springs School District - not just once in a while, but every day of the school year. Along with driving safely, we also go through cases of Kleenex during cold and allergy season, many extra hours commuting with mops and body fluid spill kits during flu season, hundreds of Band-Aids from too much playground fun, bulging Dumpsters filled with trash bags brimming with leftover or spilled lunches and old banana peels, and the list goes on. Surprisingly, each Steamboat school bus driver is required to have current medic first aid certification, although we have students for just a fraction of their school day.

Riding the bus is the "green" thing to do. However, few parents ever discuss the school bus safety rules after they sign the bus contract with their students at the beginning of each school year. If Ms. Andress truly is concerned about providing her child the safest transportation to school, the Colorado Department of Education research has documented that a passenger in a car is exponentially more likely to be in an accident than a passenger on a school bus.

Each time a student stands up, yells, uses foul language, harasses fellow students, innocently tosses something to a friend, etc., it takes the driver's focus off the road. It is confounding why even a small amount of time is not spent at home discussing the ramifications of this behavior to all on a school bus rather than relaying false information in a letter to the editor. Further, as an almost nine-year driver for our district, I have had only two parents ever take the time to come in and meet with me. I have contracts with more than 100 students each year. Do the math.

The old airline adage "Come fly with me" certainly would be honored if ever a parent wanted to "Come ride with me" and witness firsthand the high degree of safety and professionalism exemplified on the school buses in our district. Sadly, too easily one parent composed a grossly inaccurate letter and submitted it for printing in a local paper. If you feel strongly enough to besmirch a great group of employees with false statements, we suggest your energy might be better spent cohesively working to research, resolve and improve things that may be falling short of your expectations.

Bethany Aurin

Steamboat Springs

Comments

greenwash 5 years, 7 months ago

TIME TO RETIRE BETHANY.YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY IN NEED OF A CHANGE OF SCENARY.

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JustSomeJoe 5 years, 7 months ago

Ha Aich - the pot always finds the kettle, doesn't it.

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Howard Merken 5 years, 7 months ago

Bethany is right! Twice I was in a school bus she was driving--round trip, making four bus rides with her. She handled the misbehavior quite well. She was able to tell the students what not to do, without becoming rude or obnoxious.

I've seen Sally Cellphone's antics enough times to understand that aspect of driving. The road turns, but Sally doesn't. Someday we might get bright enough to illegalize cell phoning while driving. Add to that people trying to beat a truck or a bus to the punch at a corner, or passing a bus trying to leave a stop and get back on the road, endangering everyone, and you see what Bethany is up against.

Spend some time in a school bus with her to see what I mean. Schools have too many parents who criticize without sitting in the classroom (or the bus) to see what is really going on. I know--I'm a teacher.

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untamedShrewd 5 years, 7 months ago

Bethany is a professional who I would trust driving my kids. The school district's transportation department takes great pride in employing the best to drive our kids locally and across Colorado for various sport events and field trips. Yeah, there maybe be times that kids say or do things uncalled for...but they do these same things on the playground. My kids are more safe in a bus than walking to school while a disconnected mom drives by yapping on her cell phone rushing to school and speeding through a school zone.

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Scott Glynn 5 years, 7 months ago

I think that the original point that Mrs. Andress made is being lost. I don't think she was mentioning safety as a primary concern and was taken out of context. We moved here from a major metropolitan area the summer before our oldest child entered kindergarten. I was caught by suprise when I learned that my 5 year old would be on the bus with juniors and seniors in High School. The conversations and actions of 16-18 year olds is not quite appropriate for 5-6 year olds and I believe this is the point she is trying to make. The school bus is one of the best modes of transportation we can give our children to ensure they are physically safe. Ed Dingledine and his staff do a tremendous job and take their responsibility seriously. Being in a rural community I know we can not send 3 busses on every route to seperate age groups. What we can, and should do as parents, is monitor the experiences our children have when interacting with older students, and use them as teaching moments to emphasise what is and is not appropriate behavior. Now that my children are advancing through the ranks it is just as important for us to continue to monitor and encourage appropriate behavior now that they are moving into roles of leadership.

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