Driving a school bus can be the beginning of a long and varied career in student transportation. Most drivers also work as mechanics, trainers, dispatchers, or directors — or they plan to move into one (or all) of those roles in the future. So it’s important for those working in student transportation to become familiar with available industry resources, to open up these paths and help every district stay on top of trends.
To learn more about these resources, I reached out to Kim Rentner, a solutions consultant for Tyler Technologies. Before coming to Tyler, Kim worked at several school districts, including as a transportation director. When she joined the Tyler team, she didn’t want to completely let go of her duties in the industry. In addition to her role at Tyler, she still serves as an Illinois state instructor. She helped us outline just a few of these resources here:
- Your local Transportation Directors Association is a place for transportation personnel to connect with their peers on hot topics, to share vital information, and to give back to the community. Some will invite the sheriff’s department or the road commissioner to provide updates and maintain communication with those organizations.
- Not all of them require you to be a director to join. If you can’t find one, consider being the founder of a local group. Reach out to associations that are outside of your area for tips.
- Try contacting your Regional Office of Education to see if there are any in your area.
- Each state should have an association for pupil transportation geared toward district employees and/or contractors.
- This is one of the most important resources for you, because it gives everyone involved a real voice in the K-12 transportation community. Being a part of a state organization will give you a chance to stay informed of industry changes that could directly affect you.
- And it’s not all work! Many state associations take time to give back to the community, to hold annual conferences, and even put on bus rodeo competitions.
National Organizations and Events
- The National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT) has a lot to offer anyone in the industry. NAPT’s annual conference is one of the industry’s largest events where the wonderful people who work in school transportation can network and share ideas. Here’s a video for the upcoming conference in Columbus, Ohio from November 3-7, 2017.
NAPT also offers a wide variety of classes you can take to earn national certifications (many offered online to fit your schedule) including:
- Certified Pupil Transportation Specialist (CPTS)
- Certified Supervisor of Pupil Transportation (CSPT)
- Certified Director of Pupil Transportation (CDPT)
- Certified Pupil Transportation Driving Instructor (CPTDI)
- Certified in Special Needs Transportation (CSNT)
- School Transportation News (STN) hosts two of the biggest national conferences for student transportation professionals: the STN Expo and the Transporting Student with Disabilities (TSD) Conference. The Expo offers classes, workshops, and panels on all industry topics, while the TSD Conference is focused on solutions for transportating students with special needs of all kinds. Learn more at the STN Expo website or the TSD Conference website.
- The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) is another great resource for school transportation solutions. Dedicated to safety and security, environmental responsibility, community involvement, and more, NSTA will help you stay informed and professionally valuable. Here’s a link to the NSTA website.
- STN not only puts on the STN Expo and TSD Conference, but also provides a widely-read monthly magazine and many useful webinars. Check out their website.
- School Bus Fleet magazine has offered a monthly magazine for school bus professionals since 1956. They also offer tons of online resources. Check out their website.
- The Richard Fischer Newsletter was started in 1996 and is geared toward bus safety. You can sign up for newsletter by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Many bus dealers offer classes for mechanics to obtain additional certifications.
- Your software vendors often offer local user groups. We have several at Tyler where, in quarterly meetings, our users can share tips and tricks with one another as well as receive updates directly from us. Please feel free to contact us for information about a user group near you.
Lastly, don’t forget that we live in a world of social media. Many of the above organizations have pages on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere where they are eager to connect with you! Whether you’re a driver, mechanic, supervisor, or all of the above, these industry resources can keep you abreast on important trends, knowledgeable about the latest technology, and foster your professional growth.
Content contributions by Tyler Technologies solutions consultants Kim Rentner and Brant Gardner.