Pupil transportation professionals will come together this year in Memphis, Tenn., for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) and National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) conferences. The NASDPTS event will be held Oct. 19 to 22 (Friday to Monday), and the NAPT Summit will be held Oct. 20 to 25 (Saturday to Thursday).

Attendees will have an opportunity to choose from sessions on myriad topics, hear presentations from several high-profile speakers, and even experience a bit of glamour during NAPT’s revamped annual awards banquet.

Sessions during the NASDPTS conference are scheduled to cover such topics as advanced school bus design, district interaction with first responders, the future of WiFi on the school bus, school bus flammability, transitioning special-needs students to public transportation and the latest on stop-arm violations.

The 38th Annual NAPT Summit also promises to offer attendees a wide range of session topics and interesting events. On Sunday, Michael Eugene, chief operations officer of Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Fla., will head the opening general session and keynote presentation, “The Importance of Performance-Based Management.” The district runs its departments on a performance-based system and is reportedly delivering high-quality services at a low cost compared to some other large school districts.  

Also on Sunday, former NAPT presidents from the past 50 years will convene for a roundtable panel discussion on the experiences they have had.

On Sunday evening, NAPT will roll out a literal red carpet for attendees to make a grand entrance to the awards banquet.

The goal, officials said, is to emphasize the importance of honoring the industry’s achievements.

“We are a group that does great work and doesn’t like to get out and say, ‘Look at what we did,’ — but we need to,” Theresa Anderson, co-chair of the awards program along with Launi Schmutz, told SBF. “These are very important awards.”

In past years, an additional awards program was held on the morning after the evening program. NAPT Executive Director Mike Martin told SBF that the association decided to combine those two events, so all of the awards will be given out during the evening ceremony. The awards committee also saw an opportunity to transform the affair.

“The fundamental concept is to celebrate and recognize the people who are really the stars of the event: the award winners themselves,” Martin said.

Monday will include presentations from National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Christopher Hart and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator Anne Ferro. Hart’s session will cover troubling transportation safety trends; Ferro will discuss actions by the FMCSA to prevent crashes and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.

An afternoon workshop on Monday — “The Dangers of Distracted Driving: The Enduring and Important Legacy of Hunter Pitt” — will feature a new video from the Missouri Department of Public Safety and the Missouri School Boards Association that highlights the topic. (Six-year-old Hunter Pitt was killed in January 2011 when his school bus ran him over minutes after he exited the vehicle. The video also explains how and why the fatality happened.)

Alan Brunacini, former chief of the Phoenix Fire Department, will lead a keynote presentation on Tuesday morning. Officials said he is one of the most respected and admired men in fire service, and attendees will learn about his management philosophy and how they can use it to make a difference.  

Attorney Melinda Jacobs will also deliver a keynote presentation. Jacobs has worked in the field of special-education law for nearly 30 years, and for the last 16 years, she has exclusively represented school systems in special-education matters pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and related laws.

The trade show on Tuesday and Wednesday will include more than 120 exhibits prepared by school bus manufacturers and industry suppliers.  
Lee Hirsch, director of the film “Bully,” is scheduled to participate in the final keynote presentation on Wednesday afternoon.  

In addition, throughout the Summit, courses from NAPT’s Professional Development Series will be offered. Course subjects include data-driven decision making, transportation program planning and evaluation, special-needs transportation and school bus manufacturing.

Other conference workshops and sessions will cover student conduct on the bus, social media, the importance of training everyone on a school bus and coping with severe weather.

Next year’s NASDPTS and NAPT conferences will be held in Grand Rapids, Mich.    

Note: Conference agendas are subject to change.