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June 24, 2010  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

15th NCST Moves Industry Forward

Topics of debate included a revision that would have made crossing arms mandatory on school buses — delegates rejected the change.

by Claire Atkinson - Also by this author

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Indiana state director Pete Baxter served as the chair of the steering committee for the 2010 NCST.

Key developments

Baxter said that in his mind, two of the most significant discussion items during the congress were the crossing arm debate and the revision to the Specially-Equipped School Bus section making the second handrail optional instead of mandatory.

“The industry is still trying to come to grips with the kinds of things that are going to be consistently embraced,” he said. “The handrail and the crossing gate are ones that tend to fluctuate. But being able to state unequivocally, ‘This is what our industry believes in,’ at least on those points, that has not been consistent, and I tend to think that sends a mixed message.”

Language was approved in the introduction to the General Operations section that affirmed that students should be transported in yellow school buses. “There was a significant statement advanced by the industry that students shall be transported by a school bus, and saying that in unison, that we believe that children going to and from school need to be in this vehicle,” Baxter said. “We may have all individually and as respective organizations taken that position, but coming together as this congress and this delegation, it may not be earth-shattering, but I think it is noteworthy.”

The 2010 steering committee drafted an interim amendment process in order to provide a means for updating the document between congresses. “This interim process is designed to recognize that there are developments that occur very fast in our industry today and something shouldn’t take [five years] to make it into the nationally recommended specifications and procedures,” Baxter said.

Baxter also asked the university to compile and publish the documentation of proceedings from past congresses. Now, all versions of the document since the first one in 1939 are available at “I’ve asked that they get those posted so people can look back at how the document has grown from literally a small number of pages in a booklet to the hundreds of pages of documents that we have now,” he said.

Looking ahead to 2015

Going forward, Baxter said his responsibilities as chair, along with those of Vice Chair D. Leeds Pickering of Wyoming, for the most part, end with the closing of this year’s NCST. Baxter will write a foreword to the 2010 edition of the specifications and procedures document and will coordinate with the university during the publishing process.

But, he said, the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services will soon choose a new chair for the 2015 NCST, who will eventually announce the release date for the finalized 2010 document.

“It’s an extremely rewarding experience to lead an industry event and participate in making substantial changes to a process that originated in 1939,” Baxter said. “The industry people, regardless of the organization they represent, are like-minded when they sit down at that table and their motivation is developing guidance for the districts, the drivers and the states.” 

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