Focus is on getting students to and from school safely
WOODLAND — Woodland Public Schools along with Kalama, Ridgefield, and La Center School Districts celebrated the dedicated school bus drivers and support staff of the KWRL Transportation Cooperative serving each of the four districts and recognized the team’s powerful contributions to public education during a special appreciation luncheon.
Asha Riley, assistant superintendent for Woodland Public Schools, kicked off the celebration with an introductory speech highlighting the important contributions of the KWRL staff to the districts they serve. Woodland Public Schools’ food services team prepared a lunch of hot dogs, hamburgers and side dishes along with a selection of fruit and desserts.
Students at Woodland’s schools made posters thanking KWRL’s bus drivers and support staff. The superintendents from each district along with Shannon Barnett, KWRL’s transportation director, donated personal funds to purchase door prizes and gifts for a raffle.
School bus drivers submitted some of their favorite memories driving students to and from school:
- “Former students bring their new children to the bus to meet me.”
- “I was moved when some of my students’ parents ask me not to retire.”
- “A former student told me they stopped using drugs because of my concern for them.”
- “I was incredibly touched when one of my students cried because I was reassigned to another bus.”
- “My favorite moments from being a bus driver are quite simply all of them.”
School bus drivers serve an integral part of public education transporting students safely to and from school as well as extracurricular activities each day. Safety remains a top priority; collectively, KWRL drivers have driven nearly 16 million miles without a single at-fault accident. “A student’s school day begins and ends with their safe transportation to and from school,” said Barnett. “If we can make meaningful change in improving a student’s educational experience through our happy bus drivers and staff, we’ve done a good job.”
The KWRL cooperative transports thousands of children to and from school each and every school day. “We serve just over 9,000 students each day with home-to-school and extracurricular transportation,” explained Barnett. “Our drivers travel more than 5,500 miles each day equaling in excess of one million miles each year.”
The four school districts established the KWRL cooperative in 1978 to provide flexibility and efficiency by sharing transportation operations rather than having each district maintain its own fleet of buses and drivers.
“Operating as a cooperative also allows for options such as emergency evacuation response capabilities in a far more timely and responsive fashion than would be possible if an independent district needed assistance from a neighboring district,” explained Shannon. “In addition, we recently hired a Behavior Specialist who will help ensure students practice the same behavior expectations on their rides to and from school as they are expected to practice while at school, an option that may not be affordable for a single district to take advantage of independently, but the cooperative can provide collectively to all four districts.”
The continued operation of KWRL results from the cooperation of the four partnering school districts and allows for more taxpayer funds to flow into classrooms rather than transportation costs.
“Through the forethought and planning of our four member district superintendents as well as their predecessors, we are able to offer safe and efficient transportation services allowing taxpayer funds to provide programs and additional education options instead of going to transportation infrastructure and operations,” explained Barnett. “By working together, the four districts have more effective SPED transportation, extended extracurricular transportation, and better emergency response capability than what would be possible if they were to each run their independent transportation program.”
You can learn more about the KWRL cooperative including how you can receive your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) free-of-charge to become a school bus driver by visiting the KWRL website at www.kwrl.org, calling (360) 841-2023 or by dropping by KWRL’s main offices located at 989 Frazier Lane, Woodland, WA 98674.
Information provided by Woodland Public Schools.