Sunday, May 3, 2009

Field Trip Qualifications

JudyL posted a comment in one of my blogs posing several questions:

“On the subject of Field Trips, what qualifies a driver to do trips in your District? Are all NEW employee's allowed to do trips or do you have a time set for them to become more experienced and familiar with your highways, night driving and so forth?”

In my particular district, once a bus driver has a license to drive a bus, they are qualified to haul children. We complete at least 40 hours of training, with at least 28 hours in the classroom and 12 total hours of driving time. This driving time is split into two 6-hour sections. We have to drive 6 hours without children, which gets us acclimated to driving a very large vehicle. Then we drive 6 hours with children on the bus, which tests how we handle more stress. We are also required to have CDL class B licenses with Passenger and School Bus endorsements. We also have to pass the Air Brakes test at the DMV as well before we can even get behind the wheel.

No amount of training can fully prepare you for all the conditions you will experience as a bus driver. On the subject of field trips, in my district, we have field trip sign-ups once a year. Any new drivers can sign up for the field trip list as long as they have all their qualifications in place and they are considered full time employees. We usually have a small group of “Floaters” who are considered full time employees and the rest of the newcomers are considered Substitutes. The difference between the groups is that a Floater gets a salary and health insurance benefits, where as a Substitute comes in only as needed and gets paid only if they work. My district has approximately 5-7 full time Floater positions in addition to full time Driver positions. A Floater is a permanent full time substitute.

The sign up for field trips usually occurs around mid March and have 3 different options for drivers to choose. We have 3 types of field trips: Mid-Day, After School/Overnight, and Summer. I sign up for all three. Some of the more experienced drivers in my district don’t like that just anyone who is qualified can sign up for field trips. They feel a waiting period should be in place. In my case, I got my license in October and was able to sign up the following March for field trips. I had about 4 months of driving experience under my belt before I signed up for field trips.

This only details what my district does about field trips and doesn’t reflect on other districts in my state.

Chugging Along,

The Bus Driver


Angela Watson said...

They NEED qualifications for bus drivers on field trips. We took a field trip last week and not only did the bus driver go wayyyyy out of the way on both the trip there and back, she LEFT US and after the trip, we had to wait 20 minutes for her to come back!

The Bus Driver said...

Angela - As a teacher you have every right to provide the bus driver with directions to and from the location or destination. Additionally you also have the right to request that the bus driver leave you with a phone number (most people have cell phones) where he/she can be reached in the case of an emergency.

I ask three main things of the teacher when I go on a field trip.

1. Do you mind if I drop you off and leave for a little bit?

Most of the time the teachers/coaches don't mind if I leave.

2. How do you want me to drive to destination? (roads etc)

If the teacher does not provide me with directions, I go the best way/only way I know well. Often times, we choose to go slightly longer routes in the interest of avoiding construction or other problems roads can offer.

3. When/Are we going to stop for dinner/lunch?

*** Often, I will leave my cell phone number with the teacher or coach in charge so that they can reach me at a moments notice.***

I've had a few times where the team or kid has forgotten something on the bus, and I've had to turn around and come right back.

Angela Watson said...

Well, that's what makes you the Best Bus Driver In The World. You should have a blog. Oh, wait...

The Bus Driver said...

well, you know what they say... neither rain nor sleet, nor snow......

oh wait thats the postal service.... :-P