A lot happens in the fall. The weather gets cooler, kids get back in the school routine, pumpkins appear on porches, and the school bus conference season begins. What better way to keep up on all that’s going on in the industry than to attend some conferences?

If your district only allows you to attend one or two conferences per year, you’re not alone. This can make it difficult to decide which conferences to attend to get the most value for your district, so we interviewed June Nilles, Transportation Director at Barrington 220 Schools, IL to ask for her advice on deciding which conferences to attend. She told us that these are right questions to ask:

  • Who’s going to be there? It’s always beneficial to network with other professionals to learn new methods or further your career. But also think about what vendors and contractors will be attending. Wouldn’t you love to meet your GPS support representative face-to-face? Or educate yourself on what contracting services are available?
  • What are you looking to get out of it? Seminars are the best way to keep up with industry changes, new legislation, or best practices. You should also be on the lookout for hands-on workshops and unique networking events.
  • What products are you in the market for? Whether you’re interested in electric buses, driver tablets, safety harnesses, or routing software, chances are the top vendors will be at the national shows, and many will even be at most state conferences. Maybe you’ve already done your homework on various vendors and know what products interest you most. In that case, look for opportunities to see the actual products at the event, and even give them a try before making a purchase decision.
  • What kinds of unique events are there? In addition to seminars and workshops, also consider what kinds of special events might be available. For example, the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT) conference — which is happening from October 27 – 30 this year in Kansas City — will host a live action event to help attendees better understand the effect of a fire on evacuation times, using real buses and real students.
  • Is there an opportunity for you to present? Some conferences allow attendees to hold a seminar themselves or host a social event. This can be a great way to get your name out there and give you a chance to contribute to the industry by sharing what you know.

Ms. Nilles usually attends NAPT and at least one state conference each year. She also recommends looking outside of just school transportation events. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference is a giant conference that showcases cutting-edge technology in all areas of K-12 education. There are national superintendent associations like AASA and NASS that present great opportunities to network and discover what’s important about transportation from an executive point of view. Whatever you decide, we hope to see you at this year’s conferences, and thanks for all you do to transport students safely and efficiently!

Thank you June for your insights!

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