The Thompson School District employs nearly 2,100 staff who contribute to the day-to-day operations of our district. From our school staff to our district-level workers, each of our employees gives their all to ensure that our school district serves our students and our community in an exemplary manner.
Over the past few weeks and months, I have had the privilege of “walking in the shoes” of many different groups of employees to gain a better and deeper understanding of the work they do on a daily basis. For example, in the fall, I had the opportunity to be a substitute teacher at the elementary, intermediate and secondary levels. This month I rode a school bus, worked at a college as a custodian, and also spent time outdoors with our maintenance and operations team plowing snow and moving the snow. Having these unique and authentic work experiences with valued TSD employees gives me a clearer perspective on what it takes to maintain the day-to-day operations of our district. It also reminds me that we truly have exceptional and dedicated staff. In this month’s Community Letter, I would like to highlight and introduce our Transportation and Maintenance/Operations teams.
The Thompson School District Transportation Department is committed to providing safe, timely, and efficient services for our district. The department operates 65 daily routes, covering more than 5,000 miles and transporting more than 4,800 students each day when school is in session. Labor usually begins well before 6 a.m. and can last late into the evening. Current staff of approximately 130 security professionals provide general transportation routing services, special education routing services, extracurricular/sports travel assistance, district shuttle services, summer program, as well as paraprofessional and school crossing guard services for the district. The team of mechanics work year-round to service, maintain and repair our entire district fleet of vehicles. As you may have seen and read in the news, our country is currently experiencing a continuing and unprecedented shortage of school bus drivers and transportation personnel. Our incredible team remains committed to providing this wide range of services for our district while focusing on the safety of our students, staff and community every day.
Now more than ever, we rely on our custodial and maintenance teams to keep our buildings safe and open to learning. From the impacts of COVID, to staffing shortages, to snow and ice removal, our dedicated staff have continued to pull together. Many staff work extra shifts and arrive early to clear snow and also stay late to clean buildings and cover vacancies or staff who are sick. This involved a lot of cross-training, including our building maintenance staff who come in at midnight to clean our grounds, and the management and maintenance staff who clean the buildings. This is all on top of the usual chores: dealing with roof leaks, plumbing issues, temperature issues, and more. Our grounds maintenance team continued to work over the weekends plowing and sanding for events. Custodians have worked together to ensure tasks are covered, while continuing to build relationships with students in our schools. Although this has been a very trying time, as it has been for many in the district, the team’s perseverance and teamwork has been incredible, with the continued goal of supporting our students, our staff and our community.
The simple truth is that without these dedicated individuals – along with all other staff in our district – we would not be able to continue to provide the exceptional education and service that our students and their families deserve. I am so grateful to each and every member of our team. Thank you as always for your continued support and for all you do for our entire Thompson community.
Dr. Marc Schaffer is the superintendent of the Thompson School District.