Originally created 05/25/05

Board tells monitors to stop watching drivers



Bus monitors should keep their eyes on the children and off the drivers.

That's the decision of the Richmond County school board, which removed part of a job description that required monitors to keep a log of drivers' performance, including the time they arrived for work, violations of the speed limit, near-miss accidents and instances where they didn't stop at railroad crossings.

The decision came a week after the president of the bus driver union complained that monitors are not certified to drive and should not be allowed to evaluate drivers. Bus driver and union President Sallie Thomas had complained to the board that because monitors do not have a commercial driver's license, they are not qualified to judge the drivers' performance.

The school board agreed and made the change. But school board President Marion Barnes insisted the district was not bowing to the demands of Local 239 of the Transport Workers Union of America.

"I think this board is big enough that when we make an error and we have a chance to correct it, we will do that," he said.

"We just want to let them know the union had nothing to do with us making that change."

Bus driver Loree Carter, who was practicing Tuesday for the state's Road-E-O bus competition, said disruptive children are enough to keep the monitors busy.

"Really, it's better on the drivers that they cut that (job description) out because the driver cannot concentrate on driving while wondering what the monitor is writing up on them," she said.

With increasing problems on school buses, the district added 10 paid monitors to its payroll this spring, giving it 20 employees who rotate onto problem buses and help maintain order.

Bus driver Andrew Presswood, the vice president of Local 239, said monitors cannot watch both children and drivers.

Without comment, the school board also removed a portion of the job description that required monitors to help drivers clean the bus at the end of the day. But monitors can be required to perform other duties assigned by their supervisor.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.

DUTIES REMOVED

Here are the items removed from the duties of 20 school bus monitors in Richmond County:

- Keep a log of the day's activities, including the time the driver arrives and departs the bus yard, driver's performance on preoperational checks, speeding, unsafe operation of the school bus, near-miss accidents, failure to stop at railroad crossings and school arrival and departure times.

- Help the driver clean the bus.