Building relationships for special-needs transportation and effective radio communication were a couple of the key topics covered during the California Association of School Transportation Officials' annual conference in Sacramento.
The event, produced by the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and School Bus Fleet, took place Monday to Wednesday in Scottsdale. More than 30 public and private school bus operators and 25 manufacturers and supplier companies participated in the 2018 edition of SBX.
The event kicked off with a keynote address by Linda Bluth, a special-needs transportation expert and past NAPT president. In a follow-up to her presentation at last year’s SBX, Bluth discussed the policies of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who is a proponent of school choice, charter schools, and vouchers to enable students to attend private schools with public funding.
Bluth noted that transportation has been found to be a barrier to school choice — for example, charter and magnet schools often don’t provide school bus service. If more parents choose to send their children to those types of nontraditional schools, one of the side effects could be that fewer students will ride school buses.
Bluth exhorted SBX attendees — and the industry in general — to find ways to contribute their expertise on safe transportation to the school reform efforts.
In another SBX session, NAPT Executive Director Mike Martin led a discussion of school bus driver shortage, which remains a top challenge throughout the industry. Martin asked attendees what has been working for them when it comes to recruiting and retaining drivers.
Greg Jackson, executive director of transportation and fleet services for Jefferson County (Colo.) Public Schools, said that one of his efforts related to driver retention has been aimed at improving student discipline. His department partnered with schools to implement a PBIS (positive behavioral intervention and supports)-type program. Jackson said that the program gives attention to good behavior rather than bad behavior, while recognizing that some students might need extra help in this area.
“We need to give them some support and put them in the right direction,” Jackson said.
Margarito Casillas, assistant director of transportation for Vail (Ariz.) Unified School District, said that he has worked to boost driver morale in his department by “doing some of the small things.” That has included attendance and retention bonuses, birthday cards signed by the whole administrative staff, and the formation of a committee called BUS (“Bring Us Solutions”) that is working to improve the culture of the department. Maintaining a strong relationship with the district’s HR team has also helped with driver recruitment and retention.
“We work well with the human resources department,” Casillas said. “I think that’s very key.”
Also at SBX, SBF General Manager James Blue led a panel session in which officials from Blue Bird, IC Bus, and Thomas Built Buses answered questions about alternative fuels, covering such issues as total cost of ownership, emissions, and fueling infrastructure.
“Students need to know the consequences [of misbehavior],” Bluth said. “Superintendents have to support that the principal is responsible for behavior on the bus.”
More coverage of the 2018 SBX will appear in the June issue of SBF.
The federal agency releases data showing that its Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse detected and identified nearly 8,000 positive substance abuse tests of commercial drivers since Jan. 6.
Support for special-needs transporters, effective radio communication, and electric buses were among the topics covered at the California Association of School Transportation Officials' annual conference.
Registration is open for the supplier’s Air Brake Training course and Advanced Technology Training course.
The Chandler (Ariz.) Unified School District #80 transportation team recently moved its operations from three small locations to a new facility that features significant upgrades. Here, they detail the process and share lessons learned.
Proper etiquette is critical to seamless operation between dispatchers and drivers. Tips on training and messaging include using equipment properly, creating clear emergency protocols, and keeping messages brief.
A mobile app that offers engine software updates, vertical rise vehicle lifts, and battery technology that can reduce emergency repairs are some of the latest products designed to boost shop efficiency.
Fisher discusses her love of an unpredictable workday, legislation to combat driver shortage, and taking the helm at the Virginia Association for Pupil Transportation.
Bright Horizons Center in Florida is gifted the newly renovated set by the wheelchair securement supplier.
The IC Bus parent company recognizes suppliers that exceeded performance expectations for quality, delivery, technology, and cost.
The American School Bus Council launched its annual Love the Bus campaign with events at Orange County (Fla.) Public Schools on Feb. 4.
The School District of Palm Beach County (Fla.) honors Myron White, the district's longest-standing bus driver of more than 36 years, during its "Thank a Driver" week.
“Driven to Learn,” written by Albin J. Weiler, details his experiences and those of his fellow drivers behind the wheel and includes pupil transportation lessons and tips.
Ann Kania, a driver for We Transport Inc., faced several challenges throughout her career, but says the safety of students was her number-one priority.
The feature is available on all versions of the school bus manufacturer’s Saf-T-Liner C2 and allows the front entry doors to reopen automatically if they sense an object or obstruction in the doorway.
Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!