As publisher of this magazine, I travel frequently on business. It's one of life's mixed blessings. Although I hate to get stuck in airports and grow weary of hotels, I enjoy the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the great people in this industry.
One of the business trips that I never tire of is the National Association for Pupil Transportation's (NAPT) annual conference and trade show. This is the school transportation industry's premier event and draws a large, diverse group of exhibitors and attendees. As far as I'm concerned, it's a can't-miss event.
But I understand that many of you are facing budget constraints that make it difficult to travel. In some cases, the travel budget has been pared down to almost nothing; in others, it's impractical for supervisors to leave their posts because they're so badly understaffed.
That creates a catch-22. Attending the conference and trade show will help attendees learn ways to improve their efficiency, hiring practices, training programs and safety levels, which lead to lower costs, higher morale and all of the things that lessen the impact of budget shortfalls. But getting to the event requires money, which is, of course, in short supply. It's like an actor trying to get work, but being told that he needs an agent, who requires that he have worked.
Overcoming the objection
That's why I'd like for you to photocopy this editorial and show it to the higher-ups in your organization, whether that's a school district, contractor company, Head Start agency or other group that transports students.
I guarantee that attending the NAPT conference will more than compensate for your travel costs and the time out of the office. There's just so much to learn from the more than three dozen educational workshops and a remarkable trade show spread over two days, not to mention the networking with your fellow transportation professionals.
If you need more ammunition for your travel request, consider that this year's conference — the NAPT's 30th annual meeting — will feature a half-day seminar called "Tomorrow's Technology for Today's Engines." Co-sponsored by the NAPT and the National Association of State Directors for Pupil Transportation Services, the workshop will bring together senior government officials and leaders in the engine, fuels and emissions-control industries to discuss successes and opportunities in clean-emissions technology. Believe me, air quality is a growing issue all over the country. You need to get up to speed with today's technology, and this is a perfect opportunity.
Top speakers scheduled
In addition, you might want to mention that this year's keynote speakers will be Archie Griffin, the former Ohio State running back who's the only player to win the Heisman Trophy twice (1974 and 1975), and Michael Schlappi, a four-time Olympic medal winner and two-time world champion in wheelchair basketball. I think all who hear these keynote speeches will return to their workplace with a keen desire to improve their personal and professional lives. You can't put a price tag on that kind of motivation.
This year's event will be held in Cincinnati from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4. To learn more about the conference and trade show, visit www.napt.org or call (800) 989-NAPT.
I look forward to seeing you there.