The Baldwin County School District prepared for college and career success , developing support and wrap-around services is currently operating under a new strategic plan that began in the for students through community and other 2019-2020 school year . It was drafted in partnership with Ford Next Generation Learning professional learning to support and sustain
statewide partnerships , and providing quality
and designed to move the district forward the recruitment and retention of quality work over the next five years . staff . The plan includes a particular emphasis The new plan puts considerable focus on on three main focus areas , which are student tailoring the academic experience of Baldwin High School ’ s College & Career Academy achievement , school & community partnerships , and recruiting & retaining high performing staff . Those focus areas are complete This approach creates a more impactful edu-
to match with the needs of local workforces .
with numerous strategies and goals , which cation for both the students and our community and helps ensure our students are work- include ensuring that students acquire and apply the knowledge and skills required to be force ready the day they graduate high school .
The model , designed after working with Ford Next Generation Learning , stems from the success that the organization has had with other school districts across the country . Most notably , Ford Next Generation Learning built a career academy system that created innovative pathways that prepared students for successful jobs in the billion-dollar service industry in and around the city of Nashville .
The new strategic plan put in place at the start of the 2019-2020 school year will serve the district for a period of five years before the district will revisit the strategic planning process in 2022-2023 .
When deciding how to reopen schools for the 2020-2021 school year safely , one of the main areas that needed to be re-examined was transportation but thanks to the leadership of Donald Tuft , Director of Transportation for the Baldwin County School District , and the perseverance of his amazing team of office staff , drivers , monitors and mechanics , the new school year is running smoothly .
Baldwin County Schools Transportation Department had a head start navigating their way through the ‘ new normal ’ brought on by the coronavirus pandemic . When schools closed in the Spring and students were to finish the school year working remotely at home , the transportation department , alongside the Baldwin County School Nutrition Department , carried out the Seamless Summer Meal Program earlier than its typical start time , which is in June . The mobile meal service helped provide nutritious meals to kids in the Baldwin County area .
“ There was no downtime for us over the summer . We were right
out there with the cafeteria staff , making sure kids got fed by getting the meals to them while they were in quarantine , then right after that , the summer meal program started .”
With part of the school district student population starting the new school year off in virtual learning , the number of students on the buses has been one of the biggest changes , Tuft noted .
“ Last year , I was hauling over 3,000 students . Right now , we ’ re transporting about 600 on average . That ’ s a huge difference .” he said .
Out of the 4,981 students enrolled in the Baldwin County School District this year , 1,560 are taking part in traditional in-person instruction on campus . The rest are working remotely .
The first day of school began with 49 routes . After re-accessing and consolidating , the transportation department is now down to 31 .
Extra preventative protocols have also been put in place to keep students , drivers , and monitors safe .
“ We have a seating chart now , and we try to load from the rear of the bus to the front and unload from the front to the back to help minimize students coming in contact with each other . And there ’ s a hand sanitizing dispenser at the front of the bus . We require them to use them when they get on the bus .”
Face masks are mandatory when on the bus , and if a student does not have one , the driver or monitor provides a disposable face covering . Enhanced cleaning measures are also implemented .
“ We ask the drivers to clean their buses once or twice a week , and we disinfect them twice a day between routes ,” Tuft added .
The transportation department ’ s efforts do not run on diesel alone ; it ’ s a team effort , and Tuft says he has an excellent team of transportation specialists .
“ I have a great team who are supportive and understanding . This new normal — it ’ s not an easy situation to be in , but they all have been willing to tough it out , and we are making our way through it together ,” Tuft said .
His team is made up of 34 fulltime bus drivers , 13 full-time monitors , 12 substitute drivers on an as-needed basis , 3 substitute monitors , 4 mechanics , and two other office staff members besides himself who are stationed at the main office .
The transportation department honored its bus drivers in October with a recognition event during National School Bus Safety Week , October 19-23 . www . baldwincountyschoolsga . org BALDWIN COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT • Fall 2020 • 5