By Tamas Mondovics
Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) buses will be out in full force in a practice run on Monday, August 18, a day before the first day of the 2014-2015 school year.
The effort means motorists will get a taste of what more than 1,000 school buses during early morning and mid-afternoon do to the traffic on the roadways, carrying approximately 91,000 students each school day.
As it has been the case in years passed, rolling the buses out a day early allows the system to be tested under actual conditions as bus drivers follow real-time conditions at every stop by activating the stop arm, flashing lights and opening the door.
The test reminds motorists to comply with all laws related to school buses, school officials said.
The responsibility of making sure that all goes as planned falls on the shoulders of Hillsborough County Chief Facilities Officer Chris Farkas, who for the time being is directly overseeing the Transportation Department, following the resignation of HCPS Transportation General Manager John Franklin last April.
HCPS External Communications Assistant Manager Kristin Davis said the district has not hired a replacement for Franklin but is actively seeking to fill the transportation manager position.
School officials said that Franklin steered the Transportation Department through a very eventful time of change and challenges.
The district is currently preparing a multifaceted plan to continue to make improvements in the Transportation Department based on input from a transportation consultant and employees.
“We thank John Franklin for his tireless service, and wish him well in his new endeavors,’’ said Hillsborough School Superintendent MaryEllen Elia. “I have reiterated to our Transportation team that our goal remains unchanged – we work together to safely transport children every day.”
HCPS Transportation Department is currently seeking bus drivers. All bus drivers must possess a valid C.D.L. Phase 1 class B license upon submitting a bus driver application to the school district.
Once hired, drivers receive training in order to obtain Phase II of C.D.L. licensure. Each newly hired driver receives 70 hours of classroom and road instruction in order to ensure the safety for the students, fellow drivers and the community.
For more information, visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us.