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Position Announcement – Walking School Bus Program Coordinator

By October 9, 2012Coalition News

Portland Program Description & Position Announcement

The Maine Safe Routes to School Program is excited to announce Walk and Bike to School Portland – a comprehensive effort to improve safety and boost the number of students walking and bicycling to and from school in Portland.  Positive and safe walking and biking experiences are incredibly important for local school children’s safety, health, life skills, social connectedness, and learning readiness.  Moreover, schools with students who walk and bike benefit from improved classroom behavior and academic performance, reduced traffic congestion and improved air quality near schools, and reduced busing costs.  

An initial key component of Walk and Bike to School Portland is the Portland Walking School Bus Program which will be developed and honed this fall and launch in Spring 2013.  Maine Safe Routes to School is thrilled to partner with the Portland Public Schools and students and families across the city on this initiative!  

Portland Walking School Bus Program Overview

The Portland Walking School Bus Program (WSB Program) is designed to initiate a consistent and safe system in which, on a daily basis, children can walk to and from school as a group under the supervision of trained adults (i.e., via Walking School Buses).  Begun in Columbia, Missouri in 2003 by the renowned PedNet organization, the Walking School Bus Program (WSB Program) has become a successful model that is now at work around the country.  

In Portland, the WSB Program is a collaboration between the Portland Public Schools and Maine’s Safe Routes to Schools Program (a partnership of the Maine Department of Transportation, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, and communities throughout the state) to implement the Portland WSB Program at four schools over a start up period of up to two school years.  Very popular with grade K-5 students, coordinated daily Walking School Bus Programs benefit school communities because they:

  • Increase safe passage of students already walking to and from school
  • Introduce additional students to walking to and from school
  • Ease traffic congestion near schools during arrival times, thereby increasing safety and air quality
  • Increase students’ daily physical activity, thereby improving health outcomes, classroom behavior, and academic performance
  • Decrease demand for busing by the school district, thereby saving school district busing expenses

This pilot program is intended to kick start and help institutionalize a long term program in the Portland Public Schools. 

Position Overview: Walking School Bus Coordinator

Critical to the overall and day-to-day success of the Portland Walking School Bus Program is the Walking School Bus Coordinator.  An individual who is well-organized and committed to the benefits of walking for transportation, the Walking School Bus Coordinator recruits and trains volunteers and plans and coordinates daily Walking School Buses (as well as October and May Walk-to-School Day events).  Thus, the Maine Safe Routes to School Program seeks a capable and reliable Coordinator whose primary responsibilities would include the following:

  • Plan and coordinate the daily Portland Walking School Bus Program at 2 elementary schools (then eventually 4 schools) for each school semester;
  • Recruit and train adult volunteers (eg. parents, neighbors, teachers, etc.) to serve as route leaders
  • Recruit children to participate in the Portland WSB Program through personal contacts, presentations in class and other settings, online social marketing, maintenance of an at-school and/or online Portland WSB Program bulletin board, and distribution of fliers and brochures.  Ensure children of all cultural backgrounds and income levels are encouraged to participate in the program.
  • Evaluate, plan, and map walking routes at each participating school based on interested families and available volunteers.  Make maps available to larger school community to encourage participation.
  • Coordinate with assigned volunteer route leaders to ensure that all routes operate smoothly and with clear communications
  • Represent the Maine Safe Routes to School Program at school events for awareness and promotion of the WSB Program
  • Represent the Maine Safe Routes to School Program and the Portland WSB Program to media and news reporters
  • Attend meetings and trainings with Maine Safe Routes to School Program staff
  • Conduct baseline and follow-up inventory of students walking and bicycling to and from participating schools
  • Serve as liaison between the Maine Safe Routes to School Program and the assigned schools
  • Plan and coordinate citywide Walk-to-School days in May and October as a strategy to increase participation in the WSB Program

The ideal candidate for the Coordinator position will be: able to connect well with schools, families, and community members; available daily during the school week; proficient in computer skills; self-motivated; organized; positive and energetic – preferably with an interest in safety, public health, transportation choice, and/or environmental sustainability.

The WSB Coordinator position is targeted for an 18 month period, for 10-20 hours/week, starting in November.  Pay rate is $12/hour for this contract position with the Maine Safe Routes to School Program.  WSB Coordinator will be based in Portland and supervised by the Southern Maine Planner for Maine Safe Routes to School.

Applicants should e-mail by Monday, October 22, 2012 [application period extended from original announcement] with resume and cover letter, including: list of 3 references and availability.  Applicants must also be available for a national training in Portland on November 6th.