FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Renee Dawson paused for a moment when she was asked where she will be on Wednesday morning, her first school day as the new Director of Transportation for Fort Wayne Community Schools.
“Everywhere,” she decided.
“All around town, on the phone,” she continued. “I don’t plan on being in my office. I’ll be out with the radio, helping where we need it, helping connect kids and buses. I still have my CDL so if I need to, I’ll hop in the driver’s seat and we’ll get those kids to school.”
Dawson drove a Fort Wayne school bus for 28 years (her “mom job”) before getting her degree and running transportation for a neighboring district for a decade.
Dawson worked for three months to make the 2022 bus routes more efficient by using actual riders instead of potential ones.
But that means parents need to communicate.
Dawson said most were asked about bus plans during registration. If they weren’t or if plans change, she urged parents to call the Transportation Department at (260) 467-1900 or email email@example.com.
It’s possible routes could change during the year as demand changes.
“Transportation is always fluid. Kids are moving, families have different situations, jobs change, that kind of thing. So there’s never a year where you get things in place and you just wash your hands of it until the next year. It’s always always evolving.”
Parents and students also have a new way to learn information specific to their bus: the ParentSquare app.
“In the past, we just posted late buses to our webpage,” said Dawson. “Now we can notify them right away with the app.”
The notifications could include delays, timing changes or bus number changes, she said.
Dawson expects bus riders to enjoy a lot of good days.
“A really good day is getting the students efficiently and safely to and from school. Not having anyone at the bus stop longer than they’re scheduled. Getting everyone home safely. That’s a good day to me.”
And she had reminders for those sharing the road with the buses.
“Be aware. Don’t be a distracted driver. Watch for those yellow buses. If the warning lights come on, slow down. Keep your eyes on the road. There’s lots of kids out there and we want to keep them safe. So watch for the buses, slow down and be aware.”