On Wednesday, the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city index showed that prices rose by 4.3 percent from a year ago in October. Prices are also up 6.9 percent since January, which the Journal said is the largest year-to-year gain since 2005. A separate index from Lender Processing Services Inc., showed national home prices rose by 5.2 percent through October.
The paper cited shrinking supply and growing demand as pointing to the first yearly gain in home prices since 2006, before the full-fledged Great Recession nearly two years later. Ever since, despite the nation's economy technically out of a recession, school district budgets have hurt, which has meant fewer dollars for the classroom dollars as well as related services.
Perhaps there is some truth to forecasts that school budgets could rebound by 2015?
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is the latest to announce an end to her tenure in President Obama's cabinet.
Toyota Motor Corp. announced it is paying $1.1 billion to settle a class-action federal lawsuit filed in California that complained about unintended acceleration in vehicles. The class-action suit claimed that Toyota's electronic throttle-control system was to blame.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigated several vehicles that owners claimed accelerated when the operator tried to apply the brakes. NTSB also extended its investigation to include several school bus crashes. It reported that most incidents were due to driver error; however, it also found that sticky accelerator pedals and obstructive floor mats also contributed to some crashes.
Toyota recalled more than 5.3 million vehicles in the U.S. in 2009 and 2010 to fix the ill-fitting floor mats and another 2.77 million vehicles to fix the sticky accelerator pedals.
Cerberus Capital Management, the parent of Traxis Financial that includes Blue Bird in its portfolio, is auctioning off gun manufacturer Freedom Group, which the company dumped following the mass-shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., earlier this month.
This Christmas was an indication that despite talking a good game about increasing school bus safety, China still has a very long way to go to provide safe and secure travel for school-age students after a modified school van crash and rolled over into a water-filled ditch. Eleven students ranging in age from 4 to 6 were killed.
People's Daily, the official party newspaper, reported that the deputy mayor of Guixi city and heads of the local education and transportation bureaus were among those suspended following the crash. Guizi city is located in the rural eastern province of Yingtan and Xinhua. The private school principal and driver of the van had been detained by authorities because the seven-passenger van had been illegally modified to seat 15 children and another adult chaperone. The van was traveling down a road undergoing repairs in Jiangxi province when the crash occurred.
Meanwhile, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that the school was shut down because it was discovered it had been operating without a license.
Last year, a work truck collided head-on with a nine-passenger school van packed with 62 kindergarten students in rural western China. Some reports indicated 21 of the students were killed along with the driver and a chaperone, while other Chinese reports stated that 19 students were killed. Then, a month later in December, another school van crash took the lives of 15 students.
Since, the Chinese government has called for safety regulations and improved school bus construction, prompting interest in the American yellow school bus. Both Blue Bird and IC Bus exhibited vehicles in 2012 at industry trade shows in China and are going after a reportedly $73 billion school bus business. Blue Bird reportedly reached a deal with a Chinese company to open a plant and produce 20,000 units annually, and IC Bus has a partnership in place with Chinese truck maker JAC to design and manufacture school buses in China.
Last month, several representatives of the U.S. school bus industry presented at Busworld Asia in Guangzhou on safety and operations.
Editor's note — This is the final roundup blog of 2012. See you in the new year!