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Celebrating ISD Transportation for Bus Safety Week

Driver in school bus with stop sign out

When you ask Issaquah School District bus drivers what they love about their job, many of them simply say “the kids.” The students they transport, and the relationships they develop come second only to their primary objective of keeping students safe on the way to and from school each day. 
“Helping our students get to school each day is a key piece of the district’s mission,” Transportation Director Coleen Xaudaro said. “Our team works diligently each day to make sure that our students feel safe and welcome while they’re in our care. While the drivers are often the face of our department, I think it’s also important to acknowledge the critical roles of our mechanics, dispatchers, bus paraprofessionals and trainers.” 

October 18-22 is National School Bus Safety Week, and while we appreciate our drivers and the whole Transportation team all year round, we want to give each member of the department a special thank you this week. 

“I love the kids,” said driver Rorey Learn, who has been working for the district for about 12 years. Learn said that the best part of the job is picking up or dropping off students who are smiling and happy to go to school. “That’s probably the biggest draw – they're so endearing, and they make you feel good.” 

In addition to driving students safely to and from school each day, district Transportation also takes students home at the end of after-school activities, and provides access to field trips, athletics and club activities that happen off school grounds. 

One of the district’s newer drivers, Adrian Ramirez, said the driver trainings offered by the district, along with the regular bus safety drills, helped prepare him for the day-to-day challenges of the job as well as emergencies that may arise.  

In 2019, the district added cameras that record drivers of vehicles that illegally pass buses when the stop paddles are out and the red lights are flashing, to encourage motorists to help keep our students safe. The district partnered with Verra Mobility to install the cameras. The pictures are sent directly to law enforcement, and drivers may face a $419 fine. In case you missed our video about the project in 2019, click here to watch it

Driver Ron Bortfeld, who has worked for ISD for about 11 years, mentioned that the students themselves have a role to play in safe transportation as well, by learning and following the bus rules and participating in drills. “It’s all parts of the (safety) puzzle that we’re trying to encircle them in,” Bortfeld said. 

Fellow driver David Hines agreed, noting that reinforcing common expectations such as bus rules and practicing emergency exit drills are key strategies for the Transportation team. Since March of 2020, like many district teams, Transportation has added layers of safety protocols related to COVID-19, such as additional cleaning, increased ventilation and support in contact tracing of positive COVID-19 cases. 

While their relationships with the kids are one of the best parts of the job, Hines said he also appreciates having a job that doesn’t require sitting in an office, as well as the beautiful sunrises he often gets to see. 

The district’s team of mechanics maintains the fleet of 175 buses. In all recent inspections by the Washington State Patrol, the team has received outstanding ratings.  

Our district currently has about 140 bus drivers, and is actively recruiting for the Transportation team. If you’re interested in being part of the driving force behind education, having an office with a view, delightful customers, summer, weekends and holidays off, visit our Career Opportunities page to learn more or apply. Overall, the team includes 155 employees. Our Transportation Department offers paid CDL training and testing, part-time jobs with full-time benefits, and pay between $29.57-$32.13 per hour.