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January 17, 2013  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

NASDPTS looks at ways to enhance training, service

From routing strategies to innovative facilities, speakers at the state directors conference share numerous ideas for enhancing school bus service and training. The NASDPTS membership continues to change, with more state directors announcing their retirement.

by Thomas McMahon - Also by this author


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Greg Akin (left) of Volusia County (Fla.) Schools, Pete Meslin of Newport-Mesa Unified School District in Costa Mesa, Calif., and Judy Shanley of Easter SealsProject ACTION highlighted the benefits of transition planning.

Greg Akin (left) of Volusia County (Fla.) Schools, Pete Meslin of Newport-Mesa Unified School District in Costa Mesa, Calif., and Judy Shanley of Easter Seals
Project ACTION highlighted the benefits of transition planning.

From security awareness to routing strategies to innovative facilities, speakers at the state directors conference in Memphis, Tenn., shared numerous ideas and resources for enhancing school bus service and training.

At the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) event, held in late October, a mix of federal agency officials, district-level transportation directors, vendors, consultants and researchers gave presentations, many of which challenged the status quo.

Creative training
Monica Coburn of Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. in Columbus, Ind., and Tim Parker of Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools shared details on their districts’ innovative driver training facilities.

The Bartholomew transportation department identified a district room that was being used to store paper and other items. They began looking into the logistics of turning it into a training room.

Coburn said that, in particular, they wanted to have a bus on its side to practice emergency evacuations through the roof hatches.

“Opening a roof hatch for air and opening it to escape are completely different things,” she said.

Coburn and her staff determined other details for the training facility and came up with a dollar figure for developing it, but district funding wasn’t available for the project.

The transportation department turned to industry vendors, which provided grants and equipment. For example, Kerlin Bus Sales donated a bus to be used for the training. Also, the district’s school bus drivers pitched in by holding fundraisers.

The result is a facility that is used for various types of training, such as CPR, in addition to the emergency evacuation practice in the tipped-over bus.

At Fairfax, when a space above a warehouse became available, the transportation department developed a training facility that includes a variety of stations for building skills.

There’s a special-needs training area that looks like the inside of a bus and includes a wheelchair lift, mannequins and different types of restraints. There are also stations to practice putting on tire chains, getting fuel, using the radio and more.

“We encourage practice and play,” Parker said.  

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