Fremont Elementary District 79 school officials have launched a new bus safety patrol program that aims to keep riders in their seats.
Twenty-seven eighth-graders from Fremont Middle School ride the bus routes for kindergarteners through fifth-graders to help drivers reinforce safety rules.
The older students have been trained on bus rules and how to model good behavior in front of the younger kids.
The bus patrol monitors, who wear orange armbands, have become second sets of eyes on the school bus. They model good behavior and watch out for poor decisions students may make.
When a student monitor sees inappropriate behavior such as using poor language, moving around the bus or goofing around with another student, the monitor is expected to redirect the behavior. If the problem continues, the student monitor reports the behavior to the driver.
If the behavior escalates, it may be reported to the assistant principal of the school the student attends for further attention.
"I was skeptical the bus patrollers could do any good on a bus with 66 children," driver Alison Swiatkiewicz said. "But I have come to love my safety patrol students. I now have an extra set of eyes on the bus to help me understand what is going on."
Assistant Superintendent Kara Coglianese leads the safety patrol program.
"Drivers are noticing that the buses are much quieter than they've ever been," she said. "The drivers have commented that it has been a real plus having the safety patrol riding the bus."
Bus drivers have been trained to talk to students when they misbehave. Drivers were given clear guidelines for student behavior and the proper protocol to take when students misbehave.
That training is continuing.