File photo courtesy Shane Kirley

File photo courtesy Shane Kirley

This year’s efforts by the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) to promote passage of the Stop for School Buses Act of 2019 (H.R.2218/S.1254) continue to build. Now, months after NSTA’s visit to Capitol Hill, is a good time to remember that change through advocacy takes persistent effort. NSTA’s “Bus-In” initiative from last year is a prime example.

In the spring of 2018, NSTA went to Capitol Hill to address the lack of tools and resources available to school officials struggling with reporting the per student cost of student transportation under the Every Student Succeeds Act. NSTA members promoted U.S. Congressional Rep. Tim Walberg’s (R-Mich.) letter to U.S. Department of Education (DOE) Secretary Betsy DeVos, and in the end gathered support from over 20 bipartisan members of Congress.

Later in 2018, NSTA was invited to present tools and resources for the U.S. DOE, such as a school transportation cost analysis tool that it developed to evaluate a school district’s true student transportation costs.

Shortly thereafter, those same NSTA tools and resources were published to the U.S. DOE Office of State Support’s website concurrent with their presentation to education regulators from across the country at the Association for Education Finance and Policy’s annual conference.

Persistent effort achieved the goal. This is a good reminder as we continue to promote NSTA’s 2019 Bus-In effort with the passage of the Stop for School Buses Act.

Last year was particularly bad for the frequency of incidents where students were hurt or killed by vehicles illegally passing stopped school buses. After the alarming tragedy in Rochester, Indiana, in October 2018, in which three students from the same family were killed by an oncoming driver who failed to stop as they were crossing the road to board their school bus, legislators reached out to the NSTA to learn more.

Blake Krapf is the president of the National School Transportation Association.

Blake Krapf is the president of the National School Transportation Association.

NSTA was happy to help, and the result was a bipartisan and bicameral bill to address the issue: the Stop for School Buses Act, introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), and in the Senate by Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.).

When the bill was introduced in May, more than 50 NSTA members traveled to Washington, D.C., in support of it. As a result, many legislators have signed on to back the bill’s passage. Getting behind  this legislation will help make the “danger zone” around the school bus, where students are most susceptible to injury, safer for students. So, we encourage the school transportation industry to remember that the individual efforts of everyone to support this legislation should continue.

As a reminder, the Stop for School Buses Act will require the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to review illegal passing laws, enforcement, and penalties in all 50 states and to make recommendations on best practices and the most effective approaches. It will also require the U.S. DOT to create a public safety messaging campaign around illegal passing, review technologies and driver education materials, and make recommendations about effective ways to address the most critical issue of school bus safety. The “danger zone” around the bus is where students are by far most at risk.

You can help by joining NSTA’s efforts. With NSTA, you never travel alone.