West Shore ESD leads the way for school transportation.

December 20, 2021

West Shore ESD leads the way for school transportation.

West Shore School News is a presentation of West Shore Educational Service District in partnership with Mason County Press and Oceana County Press. 

By Kim Beardslee, correspondent. 

AMBER TOWNSHIP (Mason County) – West Shore Educational Service District (WSESD) Transportation Department provides service to students who receive special education in WSESD classrooms which are housed in many of the local school districts throughout our region (Lake, Mason, and Oceana counties). Over the course of a typical school year buses traveling these routes accrue approximately 350,000 miles. WSESD Transportation includes 12 buses, 12 bus drivers and staff, and one supervisor. 

This fall, Katrina Morris, WSESD transportation director was awarded “Supervisor of the Year” by the Michigan Association of Pupil Transportation (MAPT).  MAPT is an organization that was established in 1965 in order to educate and support quality transportation services across the State of Michigan.  MAPT promotes safe and effective pupil transportation by providing education for school transportation staff throughout Michigan and Morris has been integral in assisting MAPT to expand education options for Michigan’s public school transportation staff.

In 2016, Morris was among the team of WSESD staff and community agencies to become a ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) trainer. In conjunction, a Mason County School Safety Team was organized. During the development of the plan, Morris said she quickly recognized the critical role of the WSESD transportation department.  In order to relocate students or community members in the event of a large-scale or school district-wide disaster in our region, buses and trained personnel would be needed, she said.

Katrina Morris

As a result of this need, Morris and staff created and implemented anti-shooting training for transportation staff and drivers. WSESD was the first school district in Michigan to offer the training program entitled “Proactive Response Training for School Bus Drivers”. Morris, recognizing the need for all public school transportation staff to receive this training, invited State Sen. Curt Vanderwall (R-Ludington, 35th District)  to observe a training. She then developed a proposal for money to be allotted in order to expand the curriculum and training.  As a result, VanderWall supported a proposal to amend Michigan School State Aid,thus allocating funds for implementing the Proactive Response Training for School Bus Drivers Program state-wide.

Six training hours are required for public school bus drivers every other year to maintain certification. Since the Proactive Response Training for Michigan’s public school bus drivers occurred, 33 school districts from different states, the State of Florida, and Canada have requested the Proactive Response Training. Morris said she is currently collaborating with organizations to develop a follow-up training to be included in the next round of Advanced School Bus Driver Training. 

Most recently, Morris with the support of State Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann, 101st District) developed and testified to Michigan legislatures which brought to pass House Bills 4201, 4202, 4203, and 4204.  These bills address issues related to public school bus safety. 

When talking with Morris, she was quick to defer any accolades to the drivers. 

“They’re the ones out on the road making everything happen,” she said. “It is not my team, it’s our team”. Morris also contributes her accomplishments to her, “phenomenal staff, family support, and great community partners”.

Always looking out for needs and answers, Morris trains and supports transportation staff throughout the state, providing education for public school bus drivers and most recently, a three-day new transportation Supervisor course.  She said she is also hoping to collaborate to work toward the development of public service announcements in the form of billboards highlighting public school bus safety. She said she strives to improve her knowledge and skills in order to  educate those who entrust her and her colleagues to transport every day somebody else’s children safely and efficiently to and from school and school-related events. 

We’re very fortunate to have Katrina on our team at West Shore ESD,” said Kim Maue, WSESD assistant superintendent of special education. “Her knowledge and work related to student safety on school buses are well respected throughout the entire state.  Katrina can go from testifying on transportation safety bills in Lansing to getting up early the next morning to do road checks and drive a bus to pick up students throughout Lake, Mason, and Oceana counties.  She’s humble about her accomplishments and dedicated to student safety.”

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