It is the first day of the upcoming school year, and marks Brewer’s 23rd annual “first day” event, as he calls it, with the system’s transportation department.
Despite his experience, he said a few unexpected situations develop on the first day of school that his staff must attend to, such as school buses failing to start.
“However, we usually are able to rectify these promptly,” Brewer said.
However, the pressure of getting students safely to and from school and extracurricular activities may be a bit less stressful this year due to Brewer’s number of veteran returning drivers.
“Approximately 85 percent of our drivers are coming back this year and, thus far, we have only seven new drivers,” he said.
In total, Douglas County has about 300 drivers, bus monitors and substitute drivers ready to board buses this year.
More than 15,000 of the county’s about 25,000 public school students this year will be riding the bus to and from school on more than 208 bus routes, Brewer said.
Douglas County transportation department officials begin a complete inspection and overhaul of its buses within days of the close of each regular school year.
“Then, in July, we give each bus a close safety inspection as we have about 104 items on a check off list to visually inspect on each bus,” Brewer said.
Many of the school buses are now armed with stop arm safety monitor cameras, which photograph the license plate of vehicles that illegally pass a stopped school bus as students board or exit the bus.
Brewer said one of the most misunderstood state laws regarding school buses is how motorists should react to a bus loading students on a divided road.
He said if no median exists between each side of a road, vehicles traveling in either direction must stop when the bus picks up or lets students off.
However, if the divided road has a median, motorists approaching the bus from the front on the opposite side of the median do not have to stop while those behind the bus do, Brewer said.