Friday, February 25, 2005

No School / see you Monday!!

NO SCHOOL<------------------

No school today so I am going to chill out and appreciate the day!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Whooo hooo I still have a job!!!

OSWEGO — Voters approved a property tax increase Tuesday that will keep the Oswego School District from slashing numerous programs and staff.

The referendum request for a 30 cent tax increase was approved by about 54 percent of the more than 8,700 votes cast.

Whoo hoo the referendum passed and I get to keep my job.  So ha ha all you doubters who took off all your sick days thinking you won't have a job!!!  I am just happy that my town is putting th kids first.  Growth means change and change takes money.  So the children of Oswego School District 308 get to keep their programs and I get to keep my JOB!!! 

Monday, February 21, 2005

Presidents day no school


Attended a very well taught CPR training class...

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Long weekend...

The nice thing about working for a school district is you get all their holidays, teacher days, 1/2 days, 5 hour get the picture, off.  Some of the days like 5 hour days are more work for us, but in the end I like it.

Monday is President's day so we are off, but we have a non paid CPR class scheduled and I am going.  You never know when you will need to know CPR.  It will be a good investment of my time.

Yesterday the week ended fine.  You certainly can tell Spring is approaching as my Junior High kids decided to have a bread fight on the way home. One kid had a bag of bread from some sort of school party and he decided to pitch it at a girl.  The fight ensued and bread went everywhere.  I pulled off the road...and said "HEY GUYS!!  I want to be able to go home tonight too, I really don't want to spend the night crawling around under the seats looking for bread.  SO CLEAN IT UP!!"  They did, I only ended up sweeping crumbs and one big peice.  KIDS!!  I rarely write up conduct reports on kids...except for major safety issues like smoking.  I am not a push over, but I understand kids...they are basically all the same.  Just that KIDS!

Otherwise I am going to enjoy my weekend...til then drive safe...

Friday, February 18, 2005

Local news

Local news story...these kids are real heroes!!   Bus driver goes into cardiac arrest

Romeoville High: Students praised for quick action; woman critical

By Catherine Ann Velasco STAFF WRITER

ROMEOVILLE — Romeoville High School student Chris Kowal remembers saying good morning to his bus driver as he climbed on board Wednesday morning. About 15 seconds later, he saw her fall to the floor.

"I was taking out my flash cards for Spanish. She reached over to pull the door open and fell. I ran toward her," he said, dropping his flash cards.

While picking up students about 7:10 a.m. Wednesday, bus driver Phyllis Stoklosa of Romeoville, a longtime Valley View School District employee, went into cardiac arrest while picking up Romeoville High School students at Six Pines Drive and Naperville Road in Romeoville. Seventeen students were on the bus at the time, said Russell Fletcher, community relations specialist for the district.

Students came to her aid — one called 911 on her cell phone, and Kowal reached the transportation center by bus intercom. After treatment at the scene, Stoklosa was transported to Edward Hospital, where she was listed in critical but stable condition Thursday night.

"I'm glad it didn't happen when she was driving," Kowal said. "It was like the movies. My first reaction was that someone is falling off the step. Then I saw her on the floor.

"I looked behind the bus and saw a car. I told (the students waiting outside to get on the bus) to go get an adult quickly," Kowal recalled.

Meanwhile, he reached the school district's dispatch, who talked him through safety steps, making sure the bus had its emergency brakes on, which it did.

The adult in the car behind the bus stayed with the students and helped hold Stoklosa's head until paramedics arrived.

'Quick response' James Mitchem, principal at Romeoville High School, was very proud of the students. "The paramedics said their quick response afforded them enough time for paramedics to save her life," Mitchem said. "If she had been in that state for a long time, she may not have survived. "They didn't panic. They just took action, and that was great," he said.

Mitchem said Stoklosa was at the route's last bus stop when she collapsed. He credits Stoklosa for following procedure and putting the bus in neutral and putting the emergency brake on at the stop.

"The driver should be commended. It would have been easy to step on the brake and open the door," Mitchem said.

Students were later recognized over the school's public-address system. Mitchem said some doctors want to give the students a lunch.

Romeoville Mayor Fred Dewald, who works in the transportation department for Valley View, said during Wednesday night's village board meeting that he plans to honor the students at a future meeting.

"We are very, very proud of the students on the bus. They took exceptional steps," said Derrick Berlin, assistant transportation director for special services.

Berlin said students practice bus evacuation drills twice a year. They are taught how to evacuate a bus when there is a fire or an accident. They are also taught how to use the intercom and how to secure the bus, such as checking to see if the emergency brake is on.

Veteran driver Berlin described Stoklosa as a kind and caring woman who has worked for the district for 25 1/2 years.

She is currently the longest-serving driver in the Valley View transportation department, having started her career in October 1979. She has trained innumerable bus drivers during her service in the department, Fletcher said.

"I've been here about 10 months, and in the first couple of weeks she made window curtains for my office all on her own," Berlin said. "Everybody loves her. She is a very, very pleasant, wonderful lady that everyone gravitates to."

Stunned students Bethany Benigno, 14, a freshman, was the first to reach emergency personnel on her cell phone.

"She was always cheerful," Benigno said about Stoklosa. "She would give us candy canes for Christmas and bookmarks all the time."

After the paramedics came, the school district sent another bus to take the students to school, where they met with counselors in the auditorium.

"Everyone was kind of freaked out about seeing something like that," Benigno said.

Students were given a choice to go home or go to their classes. She decided to stay in school.

"There was no real point of going home," she said.

Kowal is still stunned by what happened.

"That's a life-changing experience. Anything can happen in any moment of life. Fifteen seconds could be the moment of living and dying," Kowal said. "You don't know what can happen."

Cathy Velasco can be reached at (815) 729-6051 or via e-mailat


Monday, February 14, 2005

Ahhh Valentine's at the grade school

My little ones were all a flutter with hearts and candy offerings to this bus was so extra sweet.  THEN came the after school sugar high...ew!  Shaking rattly children boarded my bus with overstuffed boxes decorated with candy hearts...WOW!  Thankfully it was a short ride to their homes....except to the daycare that I drop at ... they had another party waiting...wonder how many of them will make it to dinner after they drop following their sugar drop! 

Oh well, The day of LOVE only comes once a year!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

seat belts in buses

Updated: 04:23 PM EST   AOL NEWS   School officials, lawmaker disagree on school bus seat belts

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require school buses to be equipped with seat belts, despite resistance from school officials who say buses are safe without the restraints.

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, would require all new school buses in the state to have safety belts. Existing buses would not have to be retrofitted under the proposal.

Lang, who has unsuccessfully sponsored similar bills in the past, said the high, padded seats in school buses generally do a good job protecting kids from injury in front- and rear-end crashes, but don't prevent injuries from side-impact accidents.

"In a side collision, you don't go straight forward or straight back, you get thrown to the side and become a human missile," Lang said Monday.

Lang said he thinks recent school bus crashes might sway members to support the measure this year, citing an August 2003 bus crash in southern Illinois that killed a 14-year-old girl. Shawna Ward died and 15 students and their driver were injured when the bus skidded off a two-lane country road and plunged halfway down a 40-foot ravine near Vandalia, about 70 miles northeast of St. Louis.

But some state education officials said strapping school kids into their seats could pose other dangers, such as hampering their ability to quickly exit a bus in an emergency.

"Seat belts don't necessarily increase safety. In fact, they pose safety risks," said Charlie McBarron, communications director for the Illinois Education Association.

Becky Watts, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education, cited a 2001 study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that found lap or shoulder belts are not safer than existing bus designs.

"The cons outweigh the pros" of requiring seat belts in school buses, Watts said.

But other studies from the administration have concluded that existing school bus seats do not protect passengers in side-impact crashes and rollovers.

Lang said he would like to require all school buses to be retrofitted with lap and shoulder belts, but he said it would be too cost prohibitive to win support from lawmakers.

The bill is expected to be taken up by the House Transportation Committee this week, Lang said.

02/07/05 16:11 EST

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

Most folks would think because we do require our children to be seat belted in our personal vehicles that it would be natural to require them to be seat belted in a school bus.  Actually, pre school, early childhood, and special needs children are belted for their safety.  BUT as I said before a bus full of say 40 elementary children that would either be on fire, or in an emergency where immediate evacuation was needed would be a nightmare.  All school buses are equipted with seat belt cutters, but to cut out 40 children would be impossible.  Again, it's the powers that be who don't understand the daily workings of the real world who are deciding what's best for our children.  When I discussed this issue with one of my favorite experienced drivers she half joking said, "Rose pick 3 of your favorite kids to cut out because that's all you'll be able to save". 

Makes my job even more difficult.  Hopefully this bill will NOT pass.


Ahh the weekend

Next week is Valentines Day and the children are all excited and have their cards ready and all a flutter....well at least the grade schoolers.  The junior high kids had their dance Friday evening, and the high schoolers (the girls at least) are all talking about their boyfriends, who likes who and who is going to turnabout in March.  The boys all talk to quiet for me to hear or they are listening to their CD players.  It's interesting to listen to the different ages in each school you can almost guess a kids age by what they talk about.  Although some are more mature, most of the younger classes are very negative and talking about how much they can't stand other people.  The older kids are all into getting along.  Or telling the younger ones to quit acting so negataive.

I am still training for my state driving test which I think is overkill.  I mean I have been driving for over a year, 7 routes a day, with no problems.  I drive in all kinds of weather, traffic, construction conditions.  In my humble opinion I am not worried.  If I can't pass a skills test I don't deserve to drive children.  Some of the areas that I go in have so much construction and tight turns that all I can do is use my mirrors and be careful.  One guy always teases and says he closes his eyes and prays!  Cute.

Well, I am looking forward to listening to the little ones tell me about their party's for Valentines day...they are just too, too cute.

I am happy it's the weekend and I can relax and be a housewife!


Take care all and drive safe.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

busy busy

I've been very busy at work...refreshing and fortunately for me my boss let me go home during my layover yesterday to sleep to get over my cold...I am good now, which is very much like me.  I don't get sick for long a few days and I am over it.  I drink alot of tea maybe that's it.

So today I had to drive and it's so hard to explain things that you do everyday to a trainer, but I did ok. I did roll a stop sign though, which is very bad.  You don't realize how lazy you can get when you drive.  And if you look around at most drivers they roll stops signs too.   She gave me a lot of tips to use when I get tested by the state. 

At my last stop I broke my emergency brake.  It's a long rod that you pull down that sets the brake and it holds the bus, because we don't have park.  Soooo, it's off to the shop for poor old Bus #30.  I'll be driving a replacement tomorrow!

Sunday, February 6, 2005

field trip

My field trip yesterday was fine.  I took the Speech Team to the conference finals to a school is about an hour away.  It's expressway driving so I was glad for that because I have to take the State Skills test again, so the practice was good for me. I drove a brand new bus again, and the breaks are very touchy.  My daughter went with as she was timing for the team.  Alot of the kids I have known since they were little so it was fun to see them.  Actually the coach was just starting teaching at the school when I was still there in the 70's so that was interesting too.  Driving a different bus is like getting into someone else's car and driving it.  Everybody has their buses set up for them, and they have their supplies put into different spots.  This driver goes on a lot of sports trips so it was kind of dirty, but I swept it a up.  After my drop off I got to listen to the radio on the way home.  Not all buses have radios, but this one is pretty nice.  We are NOT allowed to have the radio on with passengers on the bus because a few years ago a bus got hit by a train when the driver didn't hear it.  She had the radio on the kids were talking when she went over the tracks and the stoplight on the other side turned red, the rear of her bus was still on the tracks.  Killed some kids too.  That accident really changed a lot of how the State of Illinois handles Railroad crossings and School Buses.  We are required to stop at all crossings with our hazards on with the window and the service door open.  Saves lifes that way if a train should by chance be coming and the gates don't go down.

I went back in the evening to get the Team and saw my neighbor, she was judging.  It was nice to see her doing so well.  On the way home they were all excited as they had taken first place, I had to leave the lights inside on so they could look at their score sheets.  It was a nice trip and although I didn't feel well it worked out fine.

Til then take care...

Friday, February 4, 2005


Ask anybody who works with kids the worst time of the year and they will say NOW!!  The little germy critters are sent to school sick ...and either pass their sickness around or barf on the bus.  Fortunately for me no one barfed but I have a nasty cold and am at the part where my nose is running like a faucet.  I don't dare call in sick as many people don't think we will have a job after the referendum so they are using their sick days...ah ye of such little faith!!

Also, early this week I was merrily walking into work thinking, "wow my life may be unsettled right now but at least I have my job!"...then my boss calls me into her office and says, "The state has audited your license and you have to be retested by the state"  Meaning, because my bus service has a 3rd party tester (not the state) they are checking to make sure she is doing her job.  Ish I just got my license a year ago.  Licensing for bus drivers is CDL, with a  passenger endorsement, and school bus endorsement.  At least I don't have to take the 3 written tests.  But I do have to show that I know how to do a DOT, which is a through check of the equipment and bus condition, and a skills test.  I should be fine, but I am now in RE training for over an hour everyday...which with a cold stinks...but I'll live.

Anyway, the weather is turning warmer and with it brings spring fever in the little ones.  They really get wound up ... but that's ok they're kids, right??