School buses rely on their size and weight along with the compartmentalization offered by the seats to offer protection to students. The larger a vehicle, the more energy gets transferred to the object hit, such as a car or truck. There are instances where some buses do, in fact, have seat belts—these are normally buses that transport special needs students.
School buses aren’t something that you can buy at your local auto dealer. They are specialty items, and there are a limited number of manufacturers who build school buses. We are required to put our school bus purchases up for bid, and the manufacturers submit their prices. The best price wins. One rule of thumb to follow, though, is that the larger the bus, the larger the price tag. A seventy-two passenger bus costs more than a forty-eight passenger bus.
The number of students a bus can carry is determined by its size. The larger the bus, the more students it can carry. We have the following capacity buses in our fleet:
  • thirty-five passengers
  • forty-eight passengers
  • sixty-five passengers
  • seventy-two passengers
It is a daunting task trying to coordinate the schedules for more than 900 buses and over 75,000 students. Bus routes are run to be as efficient as possible. Student loads and the distance to the school are only two of the factors that go into determining the routes and start times. The school’s start time is another factor.

One major factor in determining routes and trip times is traffic. Roads in the Atlanta area are becoming more congested every day. Some of our transfer programs move children from one end of the county to the other. Traffic has an immense impact on the speed a bus can travel—the longer the route, the longer the transit time—and that, unfortunately, necessitates early pick up and departure times in some instances.

The overwhelming consideration in determining the location of bus stops is the safety of our students. Certain situations, such as sharp curves in a road, are avoided so drivers will have a clear view of a stopped bus and will be able to stop in time. Stops are placed in locations where they will provide a safe and convenient location for the most students while helping us route our buses in the most efficient manner possible. Bus drivers cannot make unauthorized stops. The penalty for a driver doing so could range from suspension to termination. Please don’t ask the driver to take such a risk by asking them to stop at a location other than an authorized stop. If you have concerns regarding the location of your child’s bus stop, please contact your transportation supervisors.
A driver’s pay has three components: base pay, field-trip pay and over-time pay.
  • Base Pay. For the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the starting pay for a bus driver in the DeKalb County School District is approximately $15.40 per hour. The base pay of bus drivers is five hours per day. The annual salary range is $13,706.00 to $18,690.00.
  • Field-Trip Pay. Additionally, some drivers may also drive to support school extra activities such as field trips or athletic sports events. Field-trip pay is an additional salary to the base pay. Field-trip and extracurricular activity pay helps some drivers earn the equivalent salary of a 40-hour work week.
  • Over-time Pay. Due to excessive demands, drivers may also qualify for overtime on a case-by-case basis.
Benefits. Bus drivers also receive medical and dental insurance; and vision care assistance programs.
If you have concerns regarding the location of your child’s bus stop or any other questions about a bus stop (time, etc.), please contact your transportation supervisors.
Please contact the Department of Special Education  for assistance. If your child has a disability and/or is eligible for special education and related services according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) please contact the Department of Special Education. The department will make an assessment of the student’s transportation needs and if approved, the Department of Special Education will make the initial coordination for transport of the student with the Transportation Department. The Department of Special Education also provides information of the student’s individualized education plan (IEP) as needed. Once the student travel request is approved by the Department of Special Education, the Department of Transportation will ensure the child is picked up.
The Board of Education policy is that transportation to a school will be provided to students who live outside of a one mile radius of their attendance area school. There are exceptions to this policy, the most common of which are:
  • Students inside the one mile radius will be transported if the walking distance to school via the most direct route exceeds 1.5 miles.
  • Students inside the one mile radius may be eligible for transportation if safety concerns such as traffic, lack of sidewalks, or if a student would have to cross a major road, are such that the safety of any student will be compromised by having to walk.
One of the last things a DeKalb County Schools bus driver is asked to do before he or she leaves their bus is to “walk the bus.” That means they walk from the front to the back, checking each seat to ensure no child has fallen asleep or is hiding. A child alone on a bus is a tragedy waiting to happen, especially in extremely hot or extremely cold weather when a child’s life can be threatened by temperature extremes.

When a driver walks the bus, they put a sticker on the rear window that says Bus Empty. This is to signify that the driver has ensured that the bus is empty, and that no children are on the bus. If you see one of our buses parked without the Bus Empty sticker in the rear window, you are asked to contact Transportation at 678.676.1333 and report the bus number and its location. Transportation staff will be sent to the bus to ensure it is empty.

Unfortunately, we are prohibited by both Board of Education policy and insurance restrictions from renting our buses to private individuals and/or organizations. If you are looking to hire a bus to move a large group of people, please check out the list of commercial carriers licensed by the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety.

Please note that this list is provided for your information and as a courtesy only. None of the carriers on the list are endorsed or warranted by either the Board of Education or the DeKalb County School District.

The DeKalb County School District has recently begun purchasing low emission vehicle (LEV) buses. In LEVs, the amount of damaging particulates that are created by burning diesel (or any other) fuel is greatly reduced. This means our buses will help improve the air quality in the Atlanta area and help the area stay in compliance with ever-tightening United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air quality standards.

Currently the DeKalb County School District has eighty-six LEVs in its fleet. Over the next ten years, we will be adding another 500 LEV buses. All of the new buses will be LEVs. We’re hoping to put a bid out in October for seventy-seven new LEV buses. As we replace our older buses, we’ll put even less emissions into the air!

If the state gives us permission, our LEVs will be displaying bumper stickers that indicate they are LEVs so you can—literally—breathe a little easier.

Have other questions that aren’t answered? Please ask.