School bus riders in Fayette County, Ky., are staying seated,
talking a little more quietly, and picking fewer fights. Most students
know what will happen if they get too rowdy: They will be forced to
ride the Breadbox.
Bus drivers who become distracted by an unruly student can pull over and dispatch another bus—called the Breadbox—to pick up the disruptive student and take him or her to the district's transportation office.
A parent must then pick up the child.
"That changes the way that a student acts on the bus henceforward," said John Kiser, the transportation director for the Fayette County public schools.
About nine years ago, county bus drivers could do little more than file a "next-day report" when students were too rambunctious on the rides to and from school.
Repeat offenses were high, and safety was being compromised, Mr. Kiser said. That's when he decided to start the student- retrieval program.
The Breadbox, named after the small buses originally used to pick up disorderly students, became a countywide icon.
The district now uses several kinds of buses to pick up the students, but the original name has stuck.
"I think every kid in Fayette County, they all know what the Breadbox is," Mr. Kiser said. "All [the drivers] have to do, in many cases, is to just simply mention the Breadbox and the bus becomes ruly again."
The method is effectively eliminating repeat offenders, Mr. Kiser said. In its first year, the Breadbox was dispatched about 500 times.
So far this school year, school bus drivers have only had to pull over a little more than 100 times.
In total, the Breadbox has been used about 1,400 times.
Only one other county in Kentucky has a similar program, said Lisa Gross, a spokeswoman for the state education department.
Fayette County officials have been trying to get the program adopted statewide, but some districts may be too geographically widespread, Mr. Kiser said.
The program works well in the Fayette County system because of its relatively manageable size, Mr. Kiser said. About 15,000 of the district's 33,000 students ride school buses daily.
Vol. 22, Issue 27, Page 3Published in Print: March 19, 2003, as Take Note