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Schools transportation chief says safety is priority

November 30, 1999|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

Barb Scotto has worked in transportation for 25 years, and she brings that expertise to Washington County Public Schools, where she said her first priority will be safety.

Scotto began working as the school system's transportation supervisor earlier this month. She replaces Chris Carter, who resigned in October 2006.

Scotto most recently served as assistant transportation manager for Frederick County (Md.) Public Schools. She said her work there gave her the experience to help the local school system meet the needs of a growing community.

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"(Frederick County) was a county that experienced a lot of growth," Scotto said. "That's experience I already have with how transportation needs to grow to meet (the community's) needs."

She said Washington County's growth will bring increased enrollment and the need for new schools.

While Scotto has been working in Washington County for only a few weeks, she said she already sees opportunities to expand with new technology and new equipment that will focus on safety for students.

"There is always new technology coming out that we can explore," she said.

She also would like to strengthen communication among schools, parents and community stakeholders.

"Every one of them plays a role in safety for students," she said.

Scotto said she hopes to create more public awareness about school transportation and would like to start a newsletter for bus drivers that could include a "tips for success" list. A Web site with information for parents of Washington County Public Schools students also might be in the works.

"We want to communicate with schools about how they can support drivers and their efforts," Scotto said.

The school system employs more than 250 bus drivers who transport nearly 18,000 students to and from schools each day. Scotto said that in one year those drivers will travel a little less than 3 million miles.

In her first few weeks on the job, Scotto said she's been observing and learning about the school system. She said most of the issues that arise in student transportation are the same from county to county. During this time of the year, that means making sure area roads are safe for buses to travel.

Scotto said people who work in school system transportation become "weather fanatics," checking the weather constantly for signs of snow, floods and fog.

If there is any prediction of snow, Scotto said a crew is sent throughout the county to check the roads, often starting at 3 a.m.

Scotto has checked the roads in Washington County three times, and last week she called for the school system's first snow delay of the school year.

"You start checking the weather in October," she said. "It's just something you do to ensure safety for students and other motorists."

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