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Privatize busing, bad idea by district



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May 05, 2010 - Dear Editor,

I am a retired bus driver who worked in the Brandon School District for 20 years.

I am dismayed as I follow what is happening in the district with regards to balancing the budget. It seems that cuts are throughout the district but not so major as to disrupt the lifestyle of the administration or teachers. But, take a look at the employees who have a lower wage to start with, that's where they want to make the biggest cuts.

What I am hearing is that the district wants to privatize busing. They seem to think that driving a bus is no big deal, anyone can do it. I can't tell you how many times a bus driver has heard from a parent "I could never do your job."

Whether it's because of the size or managing the kids, their point is not just anyone can do the job.

Your local bus driver completed extensive training to pass the required testing to obtain their commercial driver's license. They were then trained with experienced bus drivers. They complete mandatory continuing education classes.These classes cover updated safe driving practices,first aid,child discipline,new laws,and more. They are drug- and alcohol-free. Random testing throughout the school year ensures that.

Your bus drivers know your kids. They know who is supposed to pick your child up at the bus stop and will question if anyone else tries to pick up the child. Your bus driver is the 1st person your child sees on his/her way to school and the last at the end of each day. Your driver (the only adult on the bus) may be carrying 60 or 70 children,with their back turned and only a mirror to watch the kids,and yet they do this everyday, safely, no matter what the traffic or weather conditions are. Your local bus driver knows the back roads. On a wintery bad driving day, you put your child on the bus with the confidence they will arrive safely.

A private company is out to make a profit. Do the parents of this community feel that a private company is going to give the same professional standard? Don't be fooled thinking they will hire all the drivers back. They won't. Do you want to trust your child to a stranger? Driving a school bus is a very important job,with a huge amount of responsibility, it should be treated as such by the school board.

Ann Wiley

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