By MARINA WATERS
When Washington County School bus drivers pull out of the bus garage on any given day, they’re usually preparing to transport students throughout the county. But on Thursday, Oct. 22, they were met with an honorary lunch instead.
“We thought it would be a good day to treat the drivers to a sandwich,” Director of School Bill Flanary said. “We had several (drivers) come through. A lot of them work at the schools, so some folks have taken meals directly to them.”
Last week was National School Bus Safety Week, which prompted the drive-through lunch.
In years past, the school system has treated bus drivers to other meals, but this year, amid the pandemic, the school system opted for boxed and easily transported lunches.
“This is the first time we’ve done it like this,” Flanary said. “Last year we set up at the McKinney Center and had some pizza. You can’t do that anymore, it’s got to be boxed. But we always try to take care of them.”
School systems throughout Tennessee may be celebrating National School Bus Safety Week, but Flanary said he felt it was important to specifically celebrate those bus drivers in Washington County who oftentimes do a thankless job.
“It’s been said the toughest job in all of education is high school principal and the second hardest job is being a bus driver,” Flanary said. “I think that’s true. I’m not sure I’d want to turn my back on 40 high school kids at 50 miles an hour.
“They are great people. They assume the same responsibilities as the principals and teachers do and they deserve some recognition from time to time.”
And the county is always in need of more drivers, he said.
“We are constantly looking for drivers,” Flanary said. “We will pay for the training and it won’t cost anyone a dime. How many employers provide their employees with an $80,000 vehicle to drive? It’s not a bad way to earn a little money and there’s insurance involved.”
For more information go to wcde.org or call the central office at (423) 753-1100.