From the break of dawn in August until the final school days in June, the bus drivers of Banks County are out on the roads, gathering our students to bring to Banks County Schools. These drivers are indeed the unsung heroes of our education system.
Drivers manage 45 daily routes, ensuring that approximately 1,800 students safely reach their schools each morning and return home every afternoon. The commitment of these drivers extends beyond regular school hours; they also support after-school activities, events, and field trips, adding about 60 extra trips to their schedule per month.
Safety is the cornerstone of the Banks County Transportation Department. Buses boast several advanced safety features like elevated seats so that most vehicles on the road are beneath the children's feet. Additionally, the design and placement of the windows on our newer model buses enhance privacy and security, often giving the appearance of an empty bus and concealing the students within, adding an extra layer of safety and discretion. The cushioned seats with high backs act as a protective compartment, and their close arrangement further enhances safety in case of an accident. Some of the drivers' routes span an average of 50 miles, emphasizing the importance of these safety measures.
Banks County Schools collaborate daily with the Banks County Sheriff's Office, which plays a vital role in maintaining the safety and efficiency of the bus routes by managing traffic during the morning and afternoon dismissal. This collaboration extends to coordinating responses during emergencies and addressing issues as they arise, ensuring the well-being of our students and the smooth operation of transportation services. Additionally, the system partners with 911 services to ensure they are promptly informed about any obstacles, such as fallen trees or accidents, allowing the school to adjust routes swiftly to avoid delays.
Under the leadership of Transportation Director Ricky Carroll, Banks County boasts one of the top transportation departments. Every bus receives monthly maintenance/service and inspections by our internal mechanics. Each school year, the buses undergo rigorous inspections by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
"Our bus drivers work tirelessly to make this complex system function seamlessly," states Director of Operations Mike Cleveland.
In Banks County, it is common to see students boarding a Banks County school bus with smiles, a testament to the drivers' positive relationships with the students.
"Our drivers and monitors are the heartbeat of this intricate system. Their punctuality, friendly greetings, and the positive environment they create are fundamental to setting the tone for our students' day", added Cleveland.
Carroll, who has been with the system for twenty-six years, said that the "unwavering commitment to the safety and well-being of our students is apparent in each bus route we operate."
Across the state, many schools have the challenge of finding bus drivers. However, in Banks County, Carroll states the system has many quality and dedicated drivers, many of whom have been with the system for as long as he has been.
"While recruiting bus drivers can be challenging, we are privileged to have a team of quality, dedicated individuals," Carroll added.
"Our bus drivers play multiple roles: they lead, make key decisions, ensure safety, and keep their buses clean. Some buses even have their nicknames to make things easier for students during the bustling afternoons." Carroll states.
Superintendent Dr. Ann Hopkins said of the department, "We recognize that our drivers play so many roles in the lives of our students. They are the first and last stop in our students' school day. We greatly appreciate them and know we could not run our system without their dedication and support."
During the appreciation week, each Banks County School System school organized a special day of treats to recognize their service.
Anyone interested in applying for a bus driver position at Banks County Schools or for more information about the department, please contact Ricky Carroll at [email protected].