The Peninsula School District Transportation Department hosted the ESD 121 Regional Road-eo May 14 at Gig Harbor High School’s parking lot.
Buses started rolling around 8 a.m. Twenty contestants took part in the competition this year, six from Peninsula. Competitors trained for two months preparing for the event.
PSD’s transportation coordinator, Craig Sherman, and driver trainer Pam Johnson worked with PSD drivers Elise Applin, Jerry Guardanapo, Robert Miller, Crystal Petasek, Laurie Rice and Rachel Short, volunteering their time to prepare for the competition. PSD driver trainers Marcia Doran and Stephanie O’Brien-Fors worked behind the scene, preparing and organizing items for the competition.
“It takes many people to make this happen,” said Annie Bell, PSD’s director of transportation. “We had volunteers from 17 other districts setting up the course starting at 5 a.m. During the day, there was a raffle for gift baskets and an auction raising over $1,000 for the ESD 121 Driver Trainer Association.”
Proceeds from the event provide scholarships for future driver trainers.
“Qualified applicants must successfully complete this two-week training program to become authorized school bus driver instructors in Washington state,” added Bell. “With time spent in the classroom and behind the wheel of a school bus, participants receive training in all aspects of school bus driver work including writing and presenting lesson plans, effective classroom instruction, reference point driving instruction, and the rules and regulations of the Washington state pupil transportation industry.”
There were 12 events, which included Parallel Parking, Railroad Crossing and Diminished Clearance. This event promotes teamwork, while the competition creates a fun way for drivers to improve their driving skills.
“It was a fun day and we enjoyed watching everyone compete,” Bell said. “I’m very proud of our team for taking part and look forward to next year. Every day, PSD’s 74 drivers drive 100 to 200 miles a day, covering 120 square miles, safely picking up and dropping off students. Last year, we drove 1,641,825 miles, using 196,755 gallons of diesel and 27,567 gallons of gas.”
The Peninsula School District is currently hiring substitute bus drivers. It offers a comprehensive training program that will begin Aug. 22.
Those interested can apply online at psd401.net or call 253-530-3900.