Calcasieu Parish School Board On Life Before and After Online Training in Student Transportation

Online Training School Bus Drivers, Student Transportation

Mary Bass Fontenot, Director of Transportation with Calcasieu Parish School Board (CPSB), shares what life was like before and after implementing online training for school bus drivers in her student transportation department.

Before becoming the Director of Transportation for CPSB, Mary was a teacher, assistant principal, and bus driver.  She now oversees a fleet that drives more than 1.9 million miles annually on their regular bus route. She has been using the Infinit-I Workforce System for Schools for online training since July 2015. The parish employs 400 full-time and part-time drivers and transports 16,000 students a day with 318 buses.

Question: What was driver in-service like before online training?

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Back in 2013, when I was a driver, training was being taken care of during in-service. We would have all of the drivers come in for a day before school starts. There would easily be 500 people in a room, including drivers, aides, subs, and there would be different topics presented to the drivers. We would have have a sign-in sheet, and they would sign-in. We had an agenda with different presenters, and we would sit through that.

Then, at the end of August, we would have all of those drivers come in again for another four-hour in-service, and we would break them out into smaller sections. I remember one year it was a chiropractor who came to talk about stress, or an insurance rep, or just different things. As a driver sitting in there, I felt like the information wasn’t always good, helpful information that I would take away to actually be able to improve my driving experience.

Plus, with the sign-in, you’ve got people talking and you only have the first five rows that are paying attention. The rest of the group, you’ve completely lost them.

As I got into this role as Director of Transportation, I felt like it was very important that we tighten that up a little bit. I didn’t feel comfortable that people were really getting some good beneficial training.

Question: Why did you decide to implement online training?

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We approached this from a risk management standpoint. We got our loss prevention company involved because it’s really all a liability piece.  That’s what all of this comes back to. We got a lot of feedback from our stakeholders before we ventured out on this because, again, if this is not something that our loss prevention provider would have been on board with, then most likely we would not have done it.

It’s all from a liability standpoint. I was terrified as a new director to think, “What happens when we have an event … and someone will … where did they receive their training? Can I show the sign-in sheet where they sat through four hours of in-service and what we covered?”

That was really the main motivating factor to move into online training.  Anytime I could say, “I can produce a certificate of completion. I can give you the information as far as when they logged in and how many attempts it took them to complete this learning module. I’ve
got all of the data.”

It’s really just a no-brainer when you look at it from the liability standpoint.

Question: What was corrective action training like before Infinit-I?

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Before online training, drivers had to sit through the training on how to become a new bus driver. For example, when the next class would roll around, drivers who needed remedial training would come in and sit on the back row. They would be there for the four hours, and that was their remediation.

There was a problem.  What if that particular night they were covering something that had nothing to do with what their accident was pertaining to?  The training was not meaningful, and the drivers were not getting anything out of it.  The drivers were frustrated and mad.  It was a lose-lose for everyone because the whole point of remedial training is to try to remediate what caused the accident, to improve the drivers, so that they don’t do that again.

Question: How has online training changed your remedial training?

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I got rid of all of that and reformatted the procedural part of the accident protocol.  On the first preventable accident, we issue now an online training module.

We see tail swing, backing, not sure of bus spatial awareness, and bumping mirrors over and over and over.  That’s the majority of your accidents. So I wanted to give corrective action on the event of their particular incident. If their accident was due to tail swing, then I want to assign a training module to be specifically on tail swing. If it is a backing accident, I want the remediation to be on backing.  I want it to be meaningful; something that is going to help you improve as a driver.

Question: How has the support team helped you with online training?

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I can’t tell you how big of a piece of our success is squarely because of the customer service team behind the Infinit-I Workforce System.

When we first were initiating this, I could just call.  I felt like I knew my client service representative (CSR). She would say, “Whatever you need us to do, that’s what we’re here for.”

We really don’t do anything as far as the maintaining. I will add a new user or help with a password or reset.  We go in to see if they’ve completed all their training, but my CSR helps with everything else.

For example, this last accident remediation that we just had, I called our CSR and said, “These people, this is what I need for them to have scheduled, and this is the timeline. It has to be completed within two weeks.”

That was it.  She took care of it.

That piece of it is huge.

For our monthly in-service, I’ll call or all email my CSR and say, “I want the following modules for their next rollout.”

She sets it up, and I’m done with it.

Don’t let it hold you back that maybe you don’t have enough staff in your office to implement Infinit-I.  They are superb at fulfilling the ins and outs of this program. They’re fantastic.

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