ONTARIO, Calif. — The California Association of School Transportation Officials (CASTO) held its 40th Annual State Conference here over the weekend.
Attendees enjoyed keynote addresses from Dr. Cal LeMon, president of Executive Enrichment Inc. and honorary life member of CASTO; Jackie Mayer, Miss America 1963 and stroke survivor; and Pete Baxter, state pupil transportation director in Indiana.
The association also recognized its 2008 School Bus Safety Poster contest winners, held a vendor show, announced election results and named its Member of the Year during the conference.
The break-out sessions offered at the conference covered myriad topics, including leadership, restraint systems, special-needs transportation and alternative fuels.
In “Who Should Attend an IEP Meeting?”, Sheryl Boe, field supervisor at Kern County Superintendent of Schools in Bakersfield, encouraged transportation officials to become more involved in the decision-making process with regard to how children's IEPs will affect their operations. She advised attendees to obtain as much information as possible after they have been invited to an initial IEP meeting. “Determine route placement and have ride times and driver information available for the parents,” she said.
Bob Austin, CASTO life member and former president, emphasized the need to carefully manage expenses, increase efficiency and improve quality control and employee accountability at school bus operations during his session “Identifying Actual Terminal Costs.” “If you’re the boss, it’s OK to say ‘Show me’ and require a paper trail,” he explained.
Transportation Director Pete Meslin and Operations Supervisor Danny Lesser from Newport-Mesa Unified School District in Costa Mesa gave a joint presentation on special-needs transportation, titled “Transportation in Support of Therapy.” Both pointed to the benefits of working closely with special-education administrators and parents to coordinate service locations and times. Transportation officials do have a say in that process, they said, especially in light of tight budgets.
Raul Boone, a member of the California Department of Motor Vehicles' Safety Actions Unit, explained what events can lead to an action taken against a driver’s school bus certificate or endorsement and what to expect when attending a hearing before the Certificate Actions Review Board.
In a presentation that focused on interactions with parents and co-workers, Tola Perkins, director of transportation services for the Orange County Superintendent of Schools, related stories from her experiences as a special-needs driver and school administrator and gave attendees tips on how to handle confrontation. “We have a lot of problems and issues in this industry, and what we don’t need is negative attitudes,” she said. “You have to learn to do this job stress-free.”
During her seminar “What Can FCMAT Do For You?”, Michelle Plumbtree, chief management analyst for FCMAT (Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team), explained that the organization assists school agencies in identifying, resolving and preventing financial problems. “Our role is to point out what you’re doing right and provide recommendations that will positively impact your current operations,” she said.
Ted Olsen, plant manager at Delta Liquid Energy, provided attendees with a wealth of information about propane during his session on alternative fuels. Olsen discussed current propane-powered vehicles, including Blue Bird's propane Vision. Refueling infrastructure, fuel availability and federal tax credits were also outlined.