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September 25, 2012  |   Comments (3)   |   Post a comment

Longtime Kan. state director Larry Bluthardt retires

By Thomas McMahon


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Larry Bluthardt served as Kansas’ state pupil transportation director for 24 years.

Larry Bluthardt served as Kansas’ state pupil transportation director for 24 years.

TOPEKA, Kan. — Larry Bluthardt has stepped down from his post after 24 years as state pupil transportation director for Kansas.

Bluthardt, who retired from the Kansas State Department of Education in late July, recently told SBF that the multiple health issues he's dealing with were a key factor in his decision, along with wanting to spend more time with family.

But he also expressed frustration with some developments that he said he feels aren't in the best interests of the state's school bus riders.

In particular, Bluthardt took issue with recent legislation that more than doubled the maximum service life of school buses in Kansas — from 12 years to 25 years.

Nevertheless, colleagues credit Bluthardt for his dedication to and knowledge of pupil transportation safety. Throughout his tenure as state director — which was initially under the Kansas Department of Transportation — he and staff member Wilma Crabtree produced the annual National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey, a report on student deaths in the danger zone around school buses.

"He revised that survey more and more each year," said industry veteran Dick Fischer, a school bus safety consultant. "Now it's a good document that you can use considerably for driver training."

Fischer also noted Bluthardt's contributions to the Kansas State Pupil Transportation Association.

"He helped the state association considerably in leadership, and he attended all of their meetings," said Fischer, who has traveled to Kansas for many years to teach school bus driver training classes. "He will be sorely missed in the industry."

For his part, Bluthardt said he will miss working with industry associations and people in the school transportation community who "all have the same interest: dedicating our lives to the lives of the kids in those buses."

For now, Bluthardt said he's content to take time off, but he said he might offer his services in school bus matters from time to time if opportunities come up.

Craig Neuenswander, the director of school finance at the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) and Bluthardt's former supervisor, said that the search for a new state pupil transportation director is underway. He spoke highly of Bluthardt's contributions in the role.

"Before I came to KSDE, I was a superintendent of schools," Neuenswander said, "and I can safely say Larry’s knowledge of school transportation and bus safety is well respected by those in the field."


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Read more about: danger zone, driver training, Kansas


Larry is a champion of all that is right, fair and equitable in the school bus industry. In my mind, he has always been admired for his interest and committment to school bus safety. Annually, he is the first person I look for at annual meetings and events. Thank you Larry for the many years of past and future years ahead of friendship. We have always teased each other that is great to share a part of our last names. Linda

Linda Bluth    |    Sep 30, 2012 01:52 PM

Enjoy your retirement you earned it! God Bless and hope all goes well with your health issues!

Craig Childs    |    Sep 27, 2012 01:03 PM

Good luck Larry! We'll miss you.

Roy Lewis    |    Sep 26, 2012 04:46 AM

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