For anyone who has been to China, the head-on crash last fall of a nine-passenger school van with a work truck that killed 21 kindergarten students and injured 41 others (yep, do the math) tragically came at no surprise. Outside of the largest cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, transportation much less the standard of living can be classified as medieval compared to what we are used to.
The Chinese government responded with a call for stricter vehicle standards, a push that was already underway in the private sector. Now, we know that the Chinese are also reaching out to the North American student transportation industry. Recently, Blue Bird was asked to attend a school bus trade show over there, and we hear that the Chinese are actively seeking consulting help from student transportation experts. As we wrote in our January 2012 edition, even with China on its way to owning a great deal of the United States, both figuratively and literally, perhaps we still have some cards up our sleeves.
With President Obama's FY 2013 proposed $3.8 trillion budget requesting nearly $80 billion annually on road and transit projects, the House continues to debate the length of the transportation bill, namely if the legislation should cover 18 months or a much shorter time frame. Meanwhile, the American Public Transportation Association reports that the Senate is trying to agree on moving ahead on a two-year $109 billion transportation bill.
Obama's transportation budget calls $476 billion to be spent over the next six years, funded by the peace dividend of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to National School Transportation Association. Meanwhile, Obama's budget is spurring a battle over energy with Republicans by proposing a repeal of tax breaks for the oil-and-gas industry. The plan calls for the repeal of a suite of tax provisions that benefit oil and gas producers. Repealing the provisions would bring in nearly $40 billion in tax revenue through 2021.
It is unknown why a 17-year-old student from Arizona would jump out of a moving school bus on Feb. 23, but it was reported today that the girl died yesterday as a result of that incident.
According to two reports found online, the River Valley High School student was riding a school bus that was returning from a field trip to Arizona State University. While the bus was on the road about two miles east of Vidal Junction, Calif., she reportedly opened an emergency exit and jumped out onto the roadway. One of the articles reported she died at a Las Vegas area hospital.
This news left us wanting more information. What was her motive? Was it because she was being bullied on the bus? Family life at home? A bad breakup?
We posted the story onto our STN Facebook page and received some comments about it. “If it’s because of bullying by the bus driver or the kids, I can sympathize. I once did [jump] because of an idiot bus driver,” wrote one fan. Another fan wrote, “Scary thought that this could happen on any bus on any given day and we are helpless to stop it…” We’ll keep you posted on any updates.
Fans of a bill introduced earlier this year to strengthen laws on illegally passing school buses in Iowa are applauding the state Senate after it unanimously voted this week to pass "Kadyn's Law," named after 7-year-old Kadyn Halvorson who was struck and killed by the driver of a pickup truck last spring while crossing the street to her waiting school bus. The bill now heads to the House.
Last fall, members of NASDPTS heard from an organizer of a group that helped create the bill.
With fuel prices skyrocketing once again, how are your operations being affected? Vote in our STN Web Poll located on our home page. You can also vote on Linkedin by joining the School Transportation News group.
Parents play a big role in a child’s education, and now more and more parents are playing a bigger role by volunteering at schools as a result of school budget cuts. According to the California State PTA, it estimates that its members volunteered about 20.6 million hours last year, up from 19.8 million two years ago.
The March 1 article also states that VolunteerSpot, a company that helps organize volunteers, mostly in schools, logged 2.25 million volunteers in 2011, up from 750,000 the year prior.
Not only does parent volunteering help public schools help plug a huge funding gap with donated money and time, but research has shown that their involvement contributes to higher test scores and better school attendance. They are truly in the trenches helping out in any way possible — from answering the phone while the secretary takes her lunch break and writing grant proposals to updating a school’s website and running art classes.
This is good news, however, schools in more affluent areas may have more parents available to volunteer while schools in low-income areas may struggle in their search because of single households or both parents who work. Finally, the article doesn’t mention parents who volunteer as school bus monitors. Some schools may shy away from those offers for different reasons, such as liability issues or the cost of conducting background checks and training.