July 21, 2011
BC Transportation Director Al Karam wins statewide award for excellence
BC Transportation Director Al Karam was been presented with the prestigious Art Schock Award for excellence at the statewide student transportation association’s annual conference being held this week in Saratoga Springs.
The New York Association for Pupil Transportation selects the award recipient annually from among nominations of leaders in the field around the state. The award recognizes the pursuit of excellence in all areas of student transportation services, and communication skills in particular.
Karam has been the district's director of transportation since 2000, overseeing a fleet of about 140 buses.
In that time, the department's out of service rate — which indicates how the fleet is faring on regular, comprehensive state inspections — has dropped from around 20 percent to less than 4 percent. The on-time rate for the more than 7,000 daily student bus rides has been well above 90 percent under Karam's leadership.
While the department has a reputation for efficiency and customer service, safety continues to be its hallmark. Karam is directly involved in not just efforts to train his staff on the latest in school bus safety, but also educating BC students, beginning in kindergarten, about rider safety.
"Al consistently gives voice to the transportation department’s mission: to safely deliver students to their destination and to do so by using taxpayer resources in the most efficient manner possible," BC Chief Business and Financial Officer Judi Kehoe wrote in her letter nominating Karam for the award.
"I know that the students of Bethlehem Central School District can count on the safest possible ride to and from school," she wrote, "and that the team of professionals on our staff are committed to helping the district achieve this. The district’s superior safety record is a direct result of the outstanding leadership and professionalism of Al Karam."
Karam did not know he would be receiving the award prior to its presentation at the beginning of the conference on Sunday, July 17. He was also likely surprised by the fact that Kehoe and BC Superintendent Mike Tebbano traveled to Saratoga that evening to help present it and congratulate him on the honor.