"That's my house," a Hillside kindergarten student exclaims to a bus
driver during a pre-school year bus ride program that is both Niskayuna
tradition and best practice in bus safety.
The kindergarten bus rides are taking place at each of the district's elementary schools from August 29.
The program is designed to provide important bus safety information and ease the transition to school for the district's youngest students. It gives them an opportunity to be in their school one more time before the year opens and ride the bus. Many participated in a similar program held for incoming kindergarten students each spring.
During the program, families and students get an orientation to safety procedures, pick-up and drop off protocols, and other transportation information. Students watch a video and meet bus drivers. Then, with their parents, they get to practice how to wait for and board the bus, followed by the rides with their families.
"We've been doing this for more than 13 years, and during that time we've seen a lot less anxiety on the first day," Transportation Department Trainer Larry Gates tells parents.
Transportation Supervisor Tom O'Donnell spoke to parents, including telling them about a change in student transportation this year. The district has subcontracted for bus drivers with a company called First Student. O'Donnell told parents that the experience for students and families will be the same as it has been in the past.
Most of the bus routes will be served by drivers who were working for the district through last year. The district will continue to manage and supervise student transportation; the transportation office staff are still district employees and parents should still call them at the same number (370-0160) with any questions or concerns. Like Niskayuna, First Student has a strong driver training and safety program.
"The law says that when students step on the bus, they are my kids. We take that seriously," O'Donnell told parents. "I want you to know how grateful we are that you trust your children with us.