What were the most significant developments in your first year as president of NAPT?
Probably our ability to partner with others. We have an exciting partnership with the United Arab Emirates [UAE] and the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority [RTA]. And we hope to work more on global awareness when it comes to school transportation.
It’s been my hope throughout that if school transportation and who we transport is important in the United States, then certainly sharing with other countries our knowledge of how to do things well is important. Granted, we’re the National Association for Pupil Transportation, but we’re really the ‘International Association.’
[NAPT Executive Director] Mike Martin has been able to represent us in China, with the World Bank of China. We have the partnership now with RTA in the UAE. And we’ve developed an exciting partnership with Easter Seals Project ACTION [Accessible Community Transportation in Our Nation]. We’ve also continued our strong relationships with NASDPTS and NSTA. Being able to partner and to look more at the global picture is very exciting.
Also, we’ve looked carefully at the budget. I’m excited about the bylaws amendment that we put in for restructuring of the board and not necessarily having the directors at large anymore, because our region directors are there. Plus, our president and vice president really should be those directors at large. So I’m hoping that will be very successful.
Also, I think the special-needs endorsement has worked out really well. Linda Bluth [immediate past president of NAPT] had a lot to do with that and pushing that forward.
We’re really strong with our online training now. So many people had asked us for years to get everything online. So I think we’re more visible now.
NAPT is a lot more than just a conference. We’re trying to make sure members hear from us.
Tell us about the partnership with Easter Seals Project ACTION.
They work closely to come up with projects that include travel training, using both city and school buses, for students with disabilities. The goal is that as the school bus ride is certainly the beginning part of a child’s life, the travel training that we provide as it connects to the classroom as kids get older, and how we transition kids, is important. And Easter Seals Project ACTION is all about that transitioning.
They work very closely with the Council for Exceptional Children and a lot of the paratransit associations, so we’re going to be working with them as well.
Then the other thing is the partnerships we’ve been able to form with GLSEN [Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network]. We’re now an educational partner with GLSEN. And there’s the work we’ve been able to do with the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools [at the U.S. Department of Education] and the bullying prevention networks.
Mike has been able to represent us in D.C. with huge success in a lot of arenas where transporters weren’t always included.
We also worked closely with the producers of the “Bully” project — the movie that came out. With things like that, we’re trying to branch out more so we’re more in the realm of being connected to the classroom than we were before. And Mike has really been instrumental in a lot of those connections in D.C.
Any new initiatives for the second year of your term?
Well, we’re going to continue working very closely with our global partners.
We’re going to, I hope, continue to push forward with our KPI [key performance indicators] project. We’ve had a very strong committee this year that has worked with developing the KPI structure for our industry.
We are working very closely with a brand new fleet advisory committee that will be taking a look at bus fleets, specifications and industry norms throughout the country. And that committee will be working closely in preparation for the next NCST [National Congress on School Transportation].
We hope to expand and/or continue our special-needs endorsement. Plus, I think we need to get more membership involvement so we have a succession plan. We need people to run for office, and we need them to take action to become involved.
One of the things we did with the LED [Leading Every Day] Initiative at the Summit this year was to talk very seriously about grassroots efforts and how you make them happen. How do you, a school district, state association or local transportation club, get initiatives passed? And how do you lobby for yourself?
We’ve done very well in California with the ability to turn the budget around and avoid the transportation trigger cuts. CASTO [California Association of School Transportation Officials] is very good at that. So we need to use that example to get others in the industry to be grassroots instigators.
What’s happening with the KPI project?
The KPI project group presented a strand of sessions during the Summit. They have lots of subcommittees, which meet weekly. We actually hired a consultant to help with the project itself, and they have conference calls weekly.
The goal will be to really have a strong metrics report card that districts can use when all is said and done. That has been all-consuming for that committee. They’ve worked really hard.