In late October, the school bus industry comes together in Austin, Texas, at the 31st Annual National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Conference and Trade Show. The conference is always one of my favorite events of the year. I look forward to seeing old friends, meeting new ones and sharing information with people who, although separated by many miles, have so much in common.
It’s fitting that I will finish my term on the NAPT board and as president in Austin, the same city where I was elected back in 1998. Although I am left wondering where the time went, my involvement with the NAPT and other industry leaders has been an extremely rewarding experience. I have had the opportunity to work with a total of 17 NAPT board members and five members of the NAPT staff. Looking back over the past seven years, I realize that all of these people have at least one thing in common: They are extraordinarily dedicated to the mission of the organization.
Together, we have moved the association forward on many fronts. We have expanded our membership base by adding new membership categories. Many of the vendors we all regularly deal with, for example, are now NAPT Business Partners and work with us year round.
We have created a formal way for state associations to access the benefits and talent we have to offer. We currently work with a total of 10 states, as well as the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference, and offer them a wide variety of administrative support, including meeting and conference planning.
One of my favorite — some would say “pet” — initiatives is expanding depth and breadth of the training we offer. In addition to the wealth of educational opportunities at our annual conference, we now offer in-depth training on more than a dozen topics via the NAPT Professional Development Series (PDS).
As part of our effort to reach the broadest market possible, we have also created new ways for people to take advantage of these and the wide variety of other services we offer. For example, we not only offer our PDS workshops all over the country — we offer them throughout the year and at a very reasonable price (just $15 for NAPT members!). We are also in the process of creating an online training site.
When I became president, the NAPT board set a goal in our strategic plan to improve our working relationships with the other industry organizations. I am very proud to say that we have made great strides here. We have developed a strong partnership with the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) and the National School Transportation Association (NSTA), commonly referred to as the 3Ns.
That relationship has allowed us to take joint positions on industry issues. I have made several trips to Washington with the presidents of the NSTA and NASDPTS (AKA the 3Ps) to meet with members of Congress and federal agencies and speak as one voice for the industry. The Ns have also collaborated on the recently released School Bus Watch program with the American Trucking Industry.
Our latest accomplishment is an exciting new partnership with SCHOOL BUS FLEET. In the coming months and years, the NAPT will be working with SBF to create exciting new products and services as well as to report the NAPT’s “News & Views.”
As I end my term, I want to thank the NAPT staff and board of directors for all of their hard work and support. And to my successor, Lenny Bernstein: I wish you the best of luck for your term as president, knowing that you will not need it. If you receive the same support I’ve had — and I have no doubt you will — you are sure to be successful.