By the time you read this, the 2013-14 school season will have begun in earnest. Another annual fall event is the NAPT Summit, scheduled for Oct. 19-24 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Today, there are significant economic and safety issues on the table for pupil transportation professionals. Experiences in your state regarding budget cutbacks, high-profile incidents and more should be shared with your peers in other states and vice versa. The NAPT Summit offers the ideal place to collaborate and network with people who share your interests.

The 2013 NAPT Summit will be chock full of workshops and speakers who understand the challenges you face and will offer helpful ideas to make you better at what you do.

We are privileged to have a prominent federal safety official at the top of our ticket again this year:

•    National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Vice Chairman Christopher A. Hart headlines NAPT’s joint session with the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) on Sunday morning, Oct. 20. Hart’s remarks about recent NTSB crash investigation results and recommendations will be important for all school transportation professionals to hear.

The rest of our slate is just as impressive:

•    Emmy-nominated writer and historian Daniel Blake Smith will present a screening of the film “Impact: After the Crash” during the Sunday morning joint session with NASDPTS. This reenactment of the catastrophic 1988 bus crash in Carrollton, Ky., shares inspirational stories of survivors.

•    A rare virus sidelined Victoria Arlen when she was 11, leaving her partially paralyzed but 100% determined to succeed. Now a member of the U.S. Paralympic swimming team, she has earned a gold medal, three silvers and a world record in the women’s 200 freestyle. Her presentation is brought to you by Q’Straint and NAPT on Monday afternoon.

•    John Parry, a 13-year NFL referee, has officiated nine playoff games, including two Super Bowls. After 18 years flying corporate jets, he also built a successful financial services business. On Tuesday morning, Parry will share lessons learned across multiple fronts. Sponsored by Blue Bird Corp.

•    John Barry of VISTA Quest LLC will lead NAPT’s Leading Every Day (LED) Initiative on Saturday. Barry is a former superintendent of Aurora (Colo.) Public Schools, a 30-year Air Force combat veteran, a fighter pilot/USAF “Top Gun” graduate and a military assistant to the secretary of defense. Barry will also lead a safety and security workshop on Sunday.

There will be a panel discussion about our global initiative to help other countries achieve excellence in yellow transportation. Learn in particular about our partnership with the emirate of Dubai and the results of the conference we co-sponsored there this year.

To bring you more detailed content, we have introduced the concept of headliners and spin-offs. The headliner session (lasting a total of 60 minutes) will introduce the speakers and topics of the morning (or afternoon) from which you may choose. At the conclusion of the headliner, attendees will then adjourn to a different room with the speaker of their choice for a 30-minute (spin-off) workshop to dig deeper in that particular topic area.

We have four major topic areas: special needs, fleet maintenance, safety and security, and key performance indicators (KPIs). An expert will introduce — in 15 minutes — what he or she would like to explore in a spin-off. The second speaker previews his/her topic, and so on. After hearing each of the four speakers, you may decide which session you’d most like to explore further in the spin-off session.

Headliner topics to be explored in depth include:

•    Our KPI committee kicks off a track on KPIs, with a KPI “boot camp.”

•    Our safety and security committee will present the results of our safety and security survey. We’ll also present a safety and security special event — details will be unveiled soon.

•    Fleet operations will focus on mechanic expertise, shop operations and safety in the workplace.

•    Our experts in the field of special needs will also be on hand to examine student tracking, parent/client perspectives, hot topics and much more.
You can become professionally certified; choose from 15 different NAPT certification classes; participate in our LED Initiative; and take advantage of our unique Special Needs Transportation Training program.

You are also invited to attend the industry’s biggest and best display of new products and services, the NAPT Trade Show, on Tuesday and Wednesday. This year, we expect 150 companies to exhibit.

If you’re facing a problem in your district, chances are someone else has already been in your shoes and can lend a helpful perspective.

We encourage you to join us in Grand Rapids from Oct. 19 to 24. In the meantime, go to for more information.    

Lynn Martin is marketing and communications specialist for NAPT.