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Guidance, Information & Instructions

Annual Transportation Report Instructions

Call-Back Inspection Guidance

Child Care Facility Transportation - An update of a memorandum dated Aug. 25, 1995, from the Department of Education to AEA Administrators and [LEA] Superintendents. It was prepared as general guidance to AEA and LEA personnel and is not intended as legal advice to the reader. It discusses the issue of when free transportation from an elementary school to a child care facility shall be provided.

Guidelines for the Safe Transportation of Pre-School Age Children in School Buses (February 1999) - These are guidelines recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the Safe Transportation of pre-school children on school buses.

Transportation Issues in Special Education

Type III Vehicle Information

Multi-Function School Activity Bus (MFSAB)

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Driver Information

School Bus Driver's Handbook - A reference guide for all school transportation personnel in the State of Iowa. It contains useful information pertaining to all areas of school transportation, along with code references on specific issues. Developed in cooperation with AEA 267, this handbook may either be downloaded directly from this site, or you may pay a printing fee for bound copies ordered from AEA 267. Revisions and updates will be added as needed.

Emergency Weather Procedures for Drivers


Every driver of a school bus should have some basic knowledge of tornado information and the precautionary measures to take when a warning or a sighting is made.

  1. What is a tornado?
    Answer: A tornado is a violently rotating column of air descending from a thunderstorm cloud and touching the ground. It nearly always starts as a funnel-shaped rotating extension from a thunderstorm cloud, builds downward to the ground and grows dark as it picks up debris.
  2. Under what conditions do most tornadoes occur?
    Answer: Tornadoes form several thousand feet above the earth's surface, usually during warm, humid, unsettled weather, and usually in conjunction with a severe thunderstorm. They require the presence of layers of air with contrasting characteristics of temperature, moisture, density and wind flow.
  3. During what time of day are tornadoes most likely to develop?
    Answer: Tornadoes are most likely to occur at mid-afternoon, generally between 3 and 7 p.m., but they have occurred at all times of the day.
  4. What direction does a tornado move?
    Answer: Usually from southwest to northeast.
  5. What is the length of a tornado's path?
    Answer: Tornadoes generally average about 4 miles, but may reach 300 miles. A tornado traveled 293 miles across Illinois and Indiana on May 26, 1917, and lasted 7 hours, 20 minutes
  6. How wide is their path?
    Answer: It averages about 300 to 400 yards, but tornadoes have cut swaths a mile and more in width.
  7. How fast do they travel?
    Answer: Average speed of a tornado is from 25 to 40 miles per hour, but speeds ranging from stationary to 68 miles per hour have been reported.
  8. Is it true that if it rains there is no chance of a tornado?
    Answer: No!! Precipitation associated with the tornado usually occurs first as rain just preceding the storm, frequently with hail, and as a heavy downpour immediately to the left of the tornado's path.
  9. Can you hear a tornado?
    Answer: DEFINITELY YES!! A tornado has been described as a roaring, rushing noise, closely approximating that made by a train speeding through a tunnel or over a trestle, or the roar of many airplanes.
  10. What is meant by a tornado watch?
    Answer: A watch indicates an area in which atmospheric weather conditions exist from which a tornado could develop. Tornado watch bulletins always state that severe thunderstorm activity is also expected. A severe thunderstorm is one containing either damaging winds (surface gusts greater than 75 miles per hour) or hailstones at least 3/4 inch in diameter at the surface of the ground or both.
  11. What is meant by a tornado or severe thunderstorm warning?
    Answer: A warning is issued when a tornado or severe thunderstorm has been sighted in the area by severe weather spotters or radar.
  12. What precautions should a school bus driver take when tornado conditions exit?
    1. Abide by local district policy where applicable.
    2. Be aware that the spring and fall months are most conducive to tornado activity
    3. Severe weather conditions should be discussed with authorized school officials before leaving the school; particularly if the area is under a Tornado Watch.
    4. If a Tornado Warning is in effect, buses should not be loaded and students should remain in the assigned shelter areas inside the school building.
  13. What should a school bus driver do if a tornado is sighted when on the route?
    1. The driver should be aware of any or all areas along the route, such as caves, basements, concrete bridges, and other substantial structures that could be used as a tornado shelter.
    2. If an adequate shelter area cannot be reached without further endangering the students, a ditch or depression in the immediate vicinity will have to be used. Evacuate the students into the shelter area, being sure that the bus has been positioned far enough, and in a direction, away from the students so that the wind will not overturn the bus onto them.
    3. If a tornado funnel is sighted, it is best to evacuate the students from the bus immediately into an appropriate shelter. Trying to outrun a tornado would not be a wise decision.
    4. Radios (AM, FM, or two-way) or other communication equipment should be in operation at all times during threatening weather conditions. Even a portable transistor radio is better than nothing during these threatening periods.


School bus drivers are faced many times with emergency situations during the winter months. Even with the most modern equipment and improved roads, winter weather can cause the most experienced driver much concern.

The following precautionary measures and emergency procedures should be considered by drivers prior to the winter months:

  1. Precautionary Measures:
    1. Drivers should acquire knowledge of existing and possible weather conditions.
    2. Drivers should acquire knowledge of weather bureau terminology.
    3. If possible, start trip with a full tank of gas.
    4. Check exhaust system for leaks.
    5. If possible, notify parents when students will arrive home early.
    6. Arrange for parents to call the next parents on the route and inform them of bus location.
    7. Do not alter routes without authorization of school officials.
    8. NO ONE should be allowed to leave the bus at any time, including the driver, except at regular stops.
    9. Emergency items carried on the bus during severe weather might include, but not limited to:
      1. Shovel
      2. Large box of facial tissue
      3. Plastic scraper
      4. Towel - paper or cloth
      5. Blizzard bucket - 2 or more one-gallon cans with plastic covers (empty 3- pound coffee cans) to be used for toilet facilities. These buckets can be used to store candy or other non-perishable food items which would be most welcome on a bus marooned for a period of time;
      6. Two or three blankets to use as partitions for temporary rest rooms on the bus;
      7. Box of old newspapers
      8. Other items which might be considered are a catalytic heater to supplement or replace engine heat, booster cables, and a tow chain or cable.
  2. Emergency Procedures:
    1. If bus is stuck and the engine is running, check for exhaust fumes. It may be necessary to open windows slightly for fresh air.
    2. The driver should remain calm and let searchers locate the bus. If precautionary measures E, F, and G are followed, the marooned time can be greatly reduced.
    3. Driver and students should stay in the bus and keep dry.
    4. If there is no heat in the bus, have students clap hands, do isometric exercises, or other activities to simulate circulation.
    5. If stalled on the roadway, keep flashing lights going for as long as possible.
    6. Drivers: don't over exert and be a dead hero.


Precautionary Measures and procedures

  1. Never drive through water when unsure of the roadbed or hidden depressions or objects.
  2. After a flood, unless the road has been traveled, bridge approaches and bridges should be checked before crossing.
  3. Don't allow students to walk through water if the depth is unknown.
  4. Check brakes periodically if driving through deep water that might get into the brakes.


Precautionary Measures and Procedures

The driver should be alert to locations where agrichemicals are being used along the route and watch for potential hazards.

  1. Portable tanks being towed or carried on other vehicles may release fumes (that are not visible) when involved in an accident.
  2. Bulk stations may also release deadly fumes.
  3. Be aware of aerial spraying. Insecticides can be harmful to humans, as well as insects.
  4. If any of the above conditions are encountered, all windows and vents on the bus should be closed.

Hiring New School Bus Drivers

Certain guidelines and processes must be followed when hiring a new school bus driver. Included are step-by-step directions for completing this process in a timely and correct manner. Also included are the Iowa CDL Driver’s Manual and important step-by-step instructions for completing the most difficult part of obtaining a CDL license: the pre-trip inspection process.

Hiring Steps for New School Bus Drivers

Commercial Driver License Manual CDL

CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Study Aid

More information about obtaining a commercial/cdl license can be found at the Iowa Department of Transportation.

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Annual Transportation Data for Iowa Public Schools

Annual Transportation Report Instructions

2022-23 Annual Transportation Data for Iowa Public Schools

2021-22 Annual Transportation Data for Iowa Public Schools

2020-21 Annual Transportation Data for Iowa Public Schools

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Iowa Administrative Code References

Pupil Transportation - Iowa Administrative Code 281-43

Minimum Standards for School Buses

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Advisory Groups

Maintenance and Inspection Advisory Council

The purpose of the Maintenance and Inspection Advisory Council is as an advisory group and sounding board for the school bus inspection team when issues arise that aren't directly addressed by guidance or rule. The school bus inspection team inspects over 8000 school vehicles twice every school year. While most inspection concerns and issues meet accepted criteria, there will on occasion arise a question, concern, or issue that needs additional input for clarification of how to proceed. The council advises and works with the inspection team to help all parties to proceed in a fair and understandable manner. There are both permanent and rotating members on the council. The permanent members are from the Department of Education transportation team, while the rotating members include both transportation directors and mechanics from around the State of Iowa. A formal meeting is held once a year, while specific issues are addressed on an as needed basis via electronic communications.

Chris ErrthumDepartment of
Joe FunkDepartment of
Tom SimpsonDepartment of
Tony BosTransportation Director, Sergeant Bluff-Luton
Jill GillisLead Tech, Washington
Troy GriffithTransportation Director, Perry
David JohnsonSchool Bus Driver, Van Meter
Mike KennedyTransportation Director, Boone
Jason LoganLead Tech, Indianola
Tammy OaksTransportation Director, Tipton
Leo ReigelsbegerTransportation Director, Humboldt

Transportation Advisory Group

The purpose of the Transportation Advisory Group is to discuss transportation concerns and problems as they arise throughout the year and to help forge solutions to these various types of school transportation issues. The group serves as a sounding board for the school transportation community in Iowa. Members are invited by the Bureau of School Business Operations. The members are from around the state, and all have a vested interest in school transportation, and includes both permanent and rotating members. The permanent members are from the Department of Education transportation team, along with the Executive Director of the Iowa Pupil Transportation Association. Rotating members include transportation directors, transportation dispatchers and administrative assistants, the Iowa State Patrol, superintendents, transportation contractors, transportation networking companies, and school bus driver inservice instructors. Meetings are typically held twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.

Kassandra ClineBureau Chief, Department of
Chris ErrthumDistrict Mechanic, Department of
Joe FunkDistrict Mechanic, Department of
Holli MarolfSecretary 2, Department of
Tom SimpsonDistrict Mechanic, Department of
Chris DarlingExecutive Director, Iowa Pupil
Tom LamanskyTransportation Director, Cardinal
Rod LarsonPublic Resource Officer, Iowa State
Mike McCroryOwner/Operator, Kids
Randy MeyerContractor, North Iowa
Tyfani NagyDistrict Manager, First Student,
Robin PickardTransportation Director, West Des Moines,
Jeff WellikTransportation Director, Roland-Story
Clark WicksSuperintendent, Perry
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Driver Training & Evaluation

Busing on the Lookout: School Transportation
Iowa Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Information
Pupil Transportation Safety Institute (PTSI)

Federal Agencies

Bullying Prevention
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
FMCSA - Medical Examination Report for Commercial Driver Fitness Determination
National Head Start Association
National Head Start Transportation Rules
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - School Bus Safety
National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners
National Transportation Safety Board
United States Department of Transportation

Iowa Government Sites

Iowa Department of Transportation
Iowa Legislature (Iowa Code and Legislative Activity)
Iowa Head Start
Iowa State Patrol
Iowa Sex Offender Registry

Pupil Transportation Association

American School Bus Council
California Association of School Transportation Officials
Iowa Pupil Transportation Association 
Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation
National Association for Pupil Transportation
National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services
National School Transportation Association

School & Transportation Safety

AAA Foundation for Safety 
National Center for Safe Routes To School
National Loading and Unloading Survey
National School Safety Center
Operation Lifesaver

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School Bus Dealers (Iowa)

Hoglund Bus Co.
School Bus Sales, Co.
Truck Center Companies


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