The transportation department is an essential cog in the overall Hilliard City Schools operation. District buses transport thousands of students each and every day. Our drivers and aides are the first school personnel our children see in the morning and often the last people our students see before they return home.

The transportation department is an essential cog in the overall Hilliard City Schools operation. District buses transport thousands of students each and every day. Our drivers and aides are the first school personnel our children see in the morning and often the last people our students see before they return home.

The school board recently approved a contract with Zonar Systems for a product that provides tremendous value for our district. We can now use GPS to track each bus, know when each bus is started each day, manage maintenance requests and provide real-time data on our routes.

We've been asked several questions over the past weeks and it is important that we share some answers as we continue to connect with you, our community.

While district leaders can track students on bus routes, we do not have plans to make this available to the public. If parents have specific questions, we can confirm pickup times, the speed of our buses and drop-off times. In a district Hilliard's size, protecting students is a paramount concern.

For a myriad of legal, privacy and safety issues, we don't believe permitting public bus tracking is in the best interest of the Hilliard City Schools.

In regard to weather, delays and closures, we never have a delay for the school day to get our buses started. In extreme cold weather, our dedicated, talented mechanics and coordinators arrive in the early morning hours – often by 4 a.m. – to make sure buses are running for the drivers when they arrive at the bus compound. Fact check: Our routes wouldn't run late because a bus wouldn't start. For our buses, cold weather doesn't cause delays or closures.

We currently double route many of our buses. Buses pick up students in grades 6-12 on the earlier routes and deliver them to sixth-grade buildings, middle schools and high schools.

Most buses then return to the roads to pick up elementary students. At times, you will see buses parked in various locations between routes. We must permit time for unexpected delays between routes: We reset before starting with the elementary students.

If you have any questions about our transportation practices, please do not hesitate to send transportation coordinator Randy Snyder an email at randy_snyder@hboe.org. We are here to provide answers to your questions. We might not always agree, but creating connections and dialogue is the Hilliard Way.

The Hilliard Schools Connection column is provided to ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News by Superintendent John Marschhausen. Read more about the Hilliard schools on the Get Connected blog at www.hilliardschools.org/category/get-connected/.