Everyone at First Student involved in transporting students puts this commitment at the forefront, whether they’re creating routes or driving the bus. And it’s a commitment the child can feel, even if she doesn’t see the things going on behind the scenes. Because she sees what’s in front of her: an adult who she can depend on, who’s earned her trust.

It all begins with safety, so that every child feels protected.

Safety is more than just following traffic rules and making sure bus maintenance is up to date. It’s building a culture of safety, making it an intentional way of thinking for every single person involved in the transportation process. It’s integrating the right technologies and keeping every child’s emotional well-being at the forefront. It’s all part of a deliberate approach that’s earned First Student the National Safety Council (NSC) Green Cross for Safety® medal, the highest award for safety in North America, as well as an invitation to the prestigious Campbell Institute.

How First Student embodies safety:
• We know our drivers are our most important safety feature, which is why we hire, train, and retain only the best individuals for the job.
• We continuously monitor driver performance for speeding, idling, rapid acceleration, and hard braking and quickly provide feedback for improvement.
• We ensure that all our equipment exceeds stringent safety laws and standards, which has helped make us 1.8 times safer than the industry average.
• We implement safety-focused technologies such as our Child Check-Mate System®, which requires the driver to walk through the bus to check for sleeping children.

This care continues with putting the latest technologies in place, so that every child feels confident.

While bus technologies may not be something children think about, these tools play a significant role in each student’s life. Making sure the right technologies are implemented means letting a child know their bus will arrive on time and that they’ll feel safe and protected during every ride.

How First Student shows care through technology:
• We created the bus-tracking tool FirstView®. The FirstView District Dashboard sends real-time data on stops and routes to school personnel, and the FirstView Parent App allows parents to track buses in real time and receive predictive stop times.
• We created FirstACTS® (Active Conduct Training System), a confidential web-based communication tool. It proactively addresses student behavior by easily communicating incidents on the bus through cloud-based reporting. It also taps into our comprehensive driver training by focusing on appropriate levels of action and resolution.
• We consistently utilize crossing control arms that mechanically extend in front of the bus bumper when loading or unloading students. These remind students to move to a safe distance in front of the bus before crossing.
• We offer additional technologies such as Wi-Fi on buses, which allows students who may not have Internet access the ability to study or do homework on the bus. We are also implementing tablets.

This care entails putting experts in charge of routing and maintenance so that every child feels assured.

Though a child may not know what a routing analyst does or the regulations a technician needs to meet, they know what it feels like if a bus doesn’t arrive when it’s supposed to, or when it breaks down. It’s why we do everything we can to ensure students don’t worry about their everyday transportation.

How First Student leverages our routing and maintenance experts:
• Our routing analysts work as an extension of each district’s transportation team. They analyze bell times, simulate various travel scenarios, and use routing software platforms to design the most efficient routes that get students to school on time.
• We have more than 2,700 maintenance technicians who are certified through The National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE. They perform regular diagnostic tests and proactive maintenance to prevent breakdowns and attend continuous trainings to ensure the safest practices for all passengers.

This care means finding and training the most thoughtful drivers, so that every child feels special.

A bus driver plays a significant role in each child’s life. They don’t just drive them to and from school — they’re a consistent, compassionate presence. Their interactions with each child can shape who that child becomes. It’s the reason we put so much thought, time, and effort into our driver vetting, hiring, and training.

How First Student ensures care through our drivers:
• We thoroughly screen prospective drivers from your local community and make sure only the most professional, dedicated individuals will be transporting children. This includes, but is not limited to, background checks, drug and alcohol testing, and physical performance and dexterity tests.
• We comprehensively train drivers in everything from behavior management to emergency procedures.
• We enroll our drivers in needs-specific education programs and workshops that focus on recognizing, responding to, and transporting students with a range of physical and emotional needs.

The reward of our commitment to care for every child, every day? The trust of a child.
Caring for Students: That’s our First Priority.

Reach out to learn more at www.firststudentinc.com.

Around NSBA

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2024 Magna Awards: Silver Award Winners

The 2024 Magna Awards program recognizes 15 exemplary district programs in three enrollment categories as Silver Award winners.