New school transportation and safety director takes the wheel
New Morgan County Schools Transportation/Safety Director Joyce Ott is no stranger to safety and keeping children safe. As former Warm Springs Intermediate School Principal, her motto was “Kids first, safety first, teamwork always.”
Ott’s duties in her new position include supervising the fleet of buses, drivers and mechanics, looking at routes, approving new bus stops, and overseeing the safety of the school system.
New combined position
The combination of overseeing safety and transportation in her new position was a natural fit. Keeping children safe in the schools is an extension of keeping them safe on the bus.
“Transportation is safety. Safety is first and foremost,” Ott said.
Assistant Superintendent Joan Willard was in charge of school safety previously. Ott is working closely with Willard to ensure a smooth transition.
They are continuing the emphasis on safety both on school buses and in schools. Each school is updating their crisis response plans. The state also has safety standards that they must maintain, she said.
Ott said that as a contractor’s daughter she grew up around garages of a different sort and feels at home in the bus garage at her new job. She said she misses the kids, but is happy to see them when she rides buses and visits the schools.
Ott said she has been to all of the schools. Each school is helping her with school bus safety education in the classroom and with getting information sent home to parents.
Ott wanted to raise awareness about students being safe while riding on the bus and for motorists and parents to watch out for children around bus stops. Tips she provided are in an accompanying article.
Motorists not stopping
Ott said that their school bus drivers continue to have problems with motorists running the red lights and caution lights on their buses as they stop to pick up or drop off students. On the first day of school, one bus driver had motorists drive past their red lights eight times.
“People may feel inconvenienced behind a school bus. They have to remember our future is on that bus. Every child deserves a safe ride to school. Slow down for buses. Be courteous. Obey their cautions and red lights,” Ott said.
Ott said she loved her old job as intermediate school principal very much, but loves working with the Morgan County Schools Transportation Department. The bus drivers are very experienced, compassionate, friendly and fun-loving. They care for kids, express concerns about them and build relationships with students, she said.
“It’s a wonderful department. I’m very happy to be here,” Ott said.
Right now Ott is just assessing everything and seeing what they can do to make things safer.
“We’ll continue to keep safety at the forefront on our buses and in our schools,” Ott said.
Ott wanted everyone to know that communication is very important to her. She’s accessible, reachable and will return calls as soon as possible.
Ott can be reached at the school board office main number 304-258-2430, extension 53. Transportation clerk Vickie Phillips is extension 54.
Calls to the old transportation department telephone number at 304-258-1685 are now forwarded to the school board office main number.