PTSI, Head Start join forces in training
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The Pupil Transportation Safety Institute (PTSI) and the National Head Start Association (NHSA) have partnered to develop pupil transportation training resources for NHSA members and the larger pupil transportation community. The first product of the joint partnership is an operations manual that was released in September. Titled “Transportation Management for Head Start Operations -- Safe Access to a Head Start Life,” the manual was co-authored by TSI’s curriculum development specialist, Jim Ellis, and southeastern regional safety manager, George Horne. The 200-page manual is the only resource of its kind addressing the specific needs of Head Start transportation in general and the Final Rule in particular. The Final Rule, in effect since January, is a set of systematic, federal transportation guideline requirements for Head Start agencies. “The manual will help local Head Start agencies interpret, comply with and implement the Final Rule in their operations,” said Ellis. “It incorporates ‘best practices’ in student transportation from Head Start agencies and school districts across the country, and includes many ready-to-use forms to help agency staff professionally manage, document and monitor their operations.” The manual includes:
Background and introduction to pupil transportation staffing
Training and monitoring for drivers and staff
Vehicles and operations
Budgeting and purchasing
Routing and custody of children
Accidents and emergencies
Educating parents and children
Children with special needs
Health and safety
Restraint use Sarah Greene, president/CEO of NHSA, says her organization is excited about its new partnership with PTSI. “For the past six years, we’ve looked to PTSI for our transportation training. This formal partnership will allow us to continue to bring needed resources to our members -- particularly those addressing the training needs presented by the Head Start Final Rule,” said Greene. PTSI, a national nonprofit school bus safety organization, has a long-standing history of working with NHSA and Head Start transportation staff across the country. “Since 1996 weÕve conducted Transportation Track workshops at NHSA’s annual training conferences,” said Ted Finlayson-Schueler, executive director of PTSI. “This partnership is a real outgrowth of our long relationship and allows us to bring resources to all Head Start agencies on a more comprehensive level.” According to Horne, everyone transporting Head Start children, including districts and contractors, is responsible for complying with the Final Rule. “The Final Rule is approved, the clock is running and we are pleased to provide this manual to everyone in the transportation industry. The ultimate goal is that compliance will ensure a safer ride to school for all children.” To purchase the Head Start manual, contact PTSI at (800) 836-2210 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arkansas restricts cell phone use
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The State Board of Education has approved a regulation banning the use of cell phones by school bus drivers while the bus is in motion. Mike Simmons, Arkansas’ state pupil transportation director, noted that drivers may still use cell phones, but only when the bus is parked. In addition, drivers can only use cell phones authorized by their employers. Meanwhile, state lawmakers approved a measure that could make it easier for school bus drivers to qualify for health insurance. Act 1253 gives superintendents the authority to define the minimum hourly requirements necessary for drivers to attain full-time status and thus qualify for health insurance. Previously, a driver had to work a minimum of 720 hours a year to be considered a full-time employee.
Minnesota contractors dispute contentious ads
ANNANDALE, Minn. -- The Minnesota School Bus Operators Association (MSBOA) claims that one of Minnesota’s largest agricultural groups is using scare tactics and misinformation in an ad campaign to get the public more interested in its products. The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association is running radio advertisements warning that conventional diesel fumes are harming school bus riders. The ads promote biodiesel, a blended alternative fuel containing processed soybean oil. The advertisements base their information primarily on a controversial Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) study that drew criticism from many science and health organizations earlier this year. Alleging that diesel emissions are linked to cancer, the study was chided by groups such as the American Council for Science and Health, which stated that the NRDC study was composed of “fallacy and half-truths.” Julie Bernick, president of the MSBOA, said that it is unnecessary for the Soybean Growers Association to make unfounded claims of health risks. “We are not opposed to improvements in air quality or bettering an already outstanding record for student transportation health and safety, but we must act on the basis of scientific evidence and ensure that costs for our schools and taxpayers are restrained,” she said.
Motorcoach group provides tips for school charter tips
A new publication from the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) is designed to help school administrators, school bus operators, parents and others when they plan for charter trips. The UMA Student Motorcoach Travel Safety Guide is a 15-page “how-to” and what-about document prepared to answer concerns about operator selection and practices for the school transportation community. It can be accessed at www.uma.org/student.htm. The two-part guide provides school transportation planners first with resources and procedures for identification of safe motorcoach companies and then addresses safety and operational issues of concern to chaperones and students during motorcoach travel. For more information about the guide, contact UMA at (800) 424-8262 or visit www.uma.org.
New rules enacted for Arizona drivers
PHOENIX – School bus drivers in Arizona now must stop at all railroad grade crossings, unless directed otherwise by a police officer. “Previously, school buses could proceed without stopping as long as the traffic light was green,” said Vicki Barnett, supervisor of the student transportation unit for the Arizona Highway Patrol. Other changes that were incorporated into Arizona’s administrative code include the following restrictions on school bus drivers:
They must not exceed 65 mph or the posted speed limit, whichever is less.
They must not eat or drink on a school bus unless the vehicle is completely stopped. Barnett said a statute change was also effected that now requires school bus drivers to activate their alternately flashing warning lights a minimum of 100 feet before a student stop. “Previous law stated the lights would activate within 100 feet, which did not allow sufficient time to warn motorists,” she said.
Question of the month
What would you do for a living if you weren't involved in school transportation? From the Forum at www.schoolbusfleet.com/forum. Nothing beats managing drivers
I am in the process of relocating to the Phoenix area, and there seem to be no openings in school transportation management. I have many other skills. I have been a computer systems analyst, and I could make more money doing that than managing a transportation department. But I don’t want to do that. To me, there is nothing more rewarding than leading a team of school bus drivers. Even with all the problems, you won’t find a more dedicated group of folks!
Linda K. Barnwell, owner
Educational Transportation Consulting
Mesa, Arizona Calmer job would offer relief
If I were not involved in the school transportation business, I would work in a safe job like accounting. Lives are not at risk in accounting and there is just a lot less daily stress. I enjoy my job on a daily basis, but sometimes the drawbacks of parents who won’t take responsibility for their children is enough to make anyone want a calmer job.
Silver Cooper, route supervisor
School District 200
Woodstock, Ill. Teaching is viable alternative
For myself, I would have to say I would go back to foreign language studies and teach. I took more than eight years of Spanish and studied the language and culture of Central America. I would enjoy teaching languages at the high school level and at the local university. I have travelled around the world and I have loved everywhere I’ve visited. Seeing the culture and living the day-to-day experience in another country is a chance I wish everyone could have. Still, I am in the school transportation field and have no desire to leave. I will simply continue my studies abroad on the side.
Justin Wilczynski, driver trainer
Laidlaw Education Services
Mt.Clemens, Michigan No alternative to bus driving
I truly can’t imagine what I would do if I weren’t a bus driver. I have often said to my husband, “Even if we were to win the lottery, you may want to quit your job, but not me. I would keep driving.” I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else. I think God meant for me to be a bus driver. I love my kids and my kids love me. I am not trying to brag, but I have two seniors this year who said they want to fail to get to ride my bus again next year. I just love being with the kids. I try to give a little of myself to them so that they have a good feeling in the mornings with which to face a new day at school.
Barbara Laws, driver
NHTSA recall notices
BLUE BIRD CORP. Models
All American (1996-2001)
TC 2000 (1996-2001)
Number involved: 5,631
Dates of manufacture: Oct. 1995 - Aug. 2001
NHTSA Recall No. 01V191/Blue Bird Recall No. R01FF
Defect: On certain school and transit buses equipped with rear-mounted engines, the 12-volt power supply cables may be chaffed by hoses, harnesses, frame components, or clamps, resulting in power failure or risk of fire in the engine compartment or both.
Remedy: Dealers will remove and inspect the 12-volt power cables from the battery to the starter and, if necessary, will replace the cables. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification was to begin during July 2001. Owners who do not receive the free remedy within a reasonable time should contact Blue Bird at (912) 822-2242. FREIGHTLINER CORP. Model
Freightliner FS-65 (2000-2001)
Number involved: 8,753
Dates of manufacture: June 2000 - May 2001
NHTSA Recall No. 01V215/ Freightliner Recall No. FL-382
Defect: On certain bus chassis vehicles, an electrical pass-through connector may not fit in the firewall mounting hole correctly, resulting in the connector dislodging and an electrical terminal contacting the firewall. This can cause an electrical short and potential fire.
Remedy: Dealers will inspect vehicles for proper mounting of the electrical pass through and correct if necessary. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification was to begin during July 2001. Owners who do not receive the free remedy within a reasonable time should contact Freightliner at (800) 547-0712.