NCST Adjourns After Passing Resolutions on Safety, Eligibility Data

DES MOINES – The 16th National Congress of School Transportation tackled its remaining business Wednesday morning and adjourned after approving three resolutions, including one to communicate to federal officials the crucial value of safe pupil transportation.

True to form since convening Sunday night, delegates completed their scheduled work and adjourned early. Today’s session concluded at 11:25 a.m. CDT following the adoption of the resolutions and a few more amendments to the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures Manual. Delegates were also briefed on the interim process for updating the manual prior to the 17th NCST in May 2020.

The first resolution, approved on a 29-7 vote, was “for the purpose of providing important data for accident investigations to ensure the safety of our school bus operations.”

It encouraged NCST members to “ensure that any onboard video system in their vehicles provide visibility for the driver and of each occupant seating location, visibility forward of the vehicle, optimized frame rate and low-light recording capability.”

Women in Transportation submitted a resolution noting that the NCST steering committee did not include any women and urging the appointment of individuals to “reflect the current diversity of the school transportation industry” when the 2020 steering committee is appointed in two-and-a-half years. 

Speaking to fellow delegates, steering committee member and Maryland Department of Education Director of the Pupil Transportation Leon Langley said, “I personally would like to have all those voices in the room.”

The resolution was approved by a 36-4 margin.

Delegates had earlier approved an amendment about the criteria for providing student transportation. The resolution, approved without a dissenting vote, was to forward the new language to the U.S. Department of Education.

It reads, “Sole criterion used to establish transportation eligibility should not be only the distance between a student’s home address and the school of attendance, rather travel to and from school must take into account the ages of the students and potentially hazardous situations, such as roadways and walk pathway conditions, speed limits, railroad crossings, lighting conditions, etc.. The criteria should also take into account students’ levels of maturity, grade levels, cognitive and physical abilities. similar criteria should be used in establishing maximum distances between a student’s home and the assigned bus stop per district guidelines.”

Speakers said the resolution is intended as a clear message to federal officials that school transportation requires additional funding and that it is in the best interest of children and the public to increase the number of students transported by buses.

NCST Operations Procedure Coordinator Ron Kinney, representing the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute, noted that the NCST began an interim amendment approval process when an urgent security issue arose in 2006. Amendments submitted before the 2020 congress will be reviewed by the steering committee to determine whether they should be adopted quickly or placed in the 2020 agenda. Matters requiring attention will be sent to the appropriate writing committee if redrafting is needed, and then forwarded to state delegations for a vote.

“For the next two-and-a-half years, the (current) writing committees have to remain active,” Kinney said. “State committees have to remain active for the next five years. You can change faces, but you’re going to have to stay involved.”