Most precious cargo hauled by bus drivers every day
Through rain or snow or dark of night …. okay, so that's the postal department's motto. But it also applies to bus drivers.
And to honor the many bus drivers who safely bring your children to and from school each day, Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed Feb. 28 as the second annual School Bus Driver Appreciation Day in Minnesota.
At Minneota, there are 13 full or part-time bus drivers who are included in the recognition day across the state.
“We want these school districts and parents or guardians to show appreciation for all bus drivers whose job it is to safely transport kids to and from school,” said Gov. Dayton.
Justin Knutson has been the bus manager for the past three years in Minneota.
“We have some good drivers in Minneota,” said Knutson, who is also a substitute driver.
“I plan on taking them all out for breakfast or dinner or something to show my appreciation to them.”
The other Minneota school bus drivers are: Pat Boerboom, Neal Bot, Greg Cuevas, Francis DeSmet, Doug DeVlaeminck, Tim DeVlaeminck, Jeff Hennen, Bruce Hoffman, Arturo Montelongo, Brian Rodas, Donnie Schuelke and Todd Sonnenburg.
DeSmet has been driving school bus at Minneota for 42 years. “I love driving bus,” said DeSmet, who was a custodian for over 30 years at St. Edward’s school. “I wouldn’t be driving this long if I didn’t. I enjoy the people I drive for.”
DeSmet said the majority of the approximately 30 kids he drives to and from school are well-behaved. “If one of the kids doesn’t want to sit down or something like that, I let their parents know and they usually take care of the problem. I’ve had very few incidents on the bus,” he said.
When DeSmet started driving in 1975, he made $7 a trip.
“But you have to remember that you could get a cup of coffee for 10 cents back then, too,” he laughed.
The Minnesota School Bus Operators Association and Minnesota Association of Pupil Transportation teamed up to create School Bus Drivers Appreciation Day as a way to encourage school leaders, parents, and students to celebrate the often overlooked profession.
“When parents put their children on a school bus in the morning, they expect them to come home at the end of the day,” said Lt. Tiffani Nielson, Minnesota State Patrol.
“Bus drivers are dedicated to keeping our children safe, making it possible for parents to know their children are in good hands when they travel between home and school each day.”
Boerboom is another longtime Minneota school bus driver. “When I was the custodian at the school, Gerhard Meidt asked me one day if I was interested in driving bus,” recalls Boerboom, who has been a driver for 31 years.
“So I got my license and started out as a substitute driver.” When 4.0 took over, Boerboom had his own afternoon route, while also filling in as a substitute morning driver. He also helps Knutson out in the bus shop. “I love the kids,” said Boerboom.
“I like talking to them every day. They often tell some interesting stories.” “I highly value 4.0 Bussing and their drivers that haul our students on a daily basis,” said Minneota Superintendent Dan Deitte.
“Bus drivers are responsible for making sure our students are safe, all while navigating through a variety of different kinds of weather and terrain.”
And like DeSmet, Boerboom said the kids that ride on his bus don’t cause any trouble.
“My kids are very polite,” Boerboom said. “They are all really good kids.” “Their dedication is obvious as they will go that extra mile to ensure the safety of every student that rides,” says Supt. Deitte.
“I want to thank them for their service to our students, staff and communities, both in Minneota and Ivanhoe.”