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The Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) is a non-profit association providing advocacy, education, and legislative consultation services to the owners of school bus fleets, school boards/transportation consortia and supplier/manufacturer companies across Ontario.  
March 15, 2017 - Issue 6

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Inside this Edition:
  1. Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program Hiring Additional Master Trainers!​
  2. Seat Belts on School Buses – Valuable Workshop at OTE!​
  3. Can Wi-Fi Make the School Bus an Effective Extension of the Classroom?
  4. Next P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program Is Around the Corner – Register Today!​
  5. SoCal 'Walking School Bus' an Option for Neighborhood Kids​
  6. Are Tracking Devices for Students with Autism on the Horizon?​
  7. School Bus Safety Co. Introduces New Services​
  8. New Stop Arm Designed to Offer More Durability, Cut Maintenance Costs​
  9. Order Your OSBA Publications Now!
  10. Upcoming Events
Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program Hiring Additional Master Trainers!

The job advertisement and all details can be viewed at this link: Job Ad.  A rewarding and exciting opportunity to be part of an extraordinary team!  It would be appreciated that the advertisement be posted on bulletin boards and/or circulated to staff members who are previous graduates of the P.R.I.D.E. Program. Other qualifications are noted in the attached advertisement.  The deadline for applications is Friday, March 17, 2017.

P.R.I.D.E. Program course details and information can be found at the following link: P.R.I.D.E. Program
Seat Belts on School Buses – Valuable Workshop at OTE!

REGISTER NOW FOR the Ontario Transportation Expo (OTE) – April 9 - 12, 2017 at the International Plaza Hotel –Toronto, ON. OTE 2017 will once again offer many valuable education sessions and networking opportunities. Expand your professional network and listen to interesting perspectives and alternative ideas! REGISTER TODAY!
 
DON’T MISS an important OSBA session on
“Seat Belts – Experiences and Challenges” on Monday April 10th from 1:15pm2:15pm. Join Barry Stock, founding principal of Landmark Bus Lines and Past President of the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) in an engaging discussion surrounding the use of seat belts on school buses! Seat belts continue to be a hot topic of conversation when discussing student transportation safety and this session will delve into both sides of the controversy that surrounds the operation of school buses equipped with seat belts. Barry Stock brings more than thirty years of private and public company experience in the school transportation industry, within both Canada and the United States. Landmark has operations in ON and in the U.S.  As a past president of NSTA, Barry also brings a balanced view and intriguing observations surrounding current industry events. Barry is currently actively involved with a number of significant initiatives within NSTA.
 
Learn more about all OTE business by viewing the full program agenda here. This year’s business session line-up covers many of the topics facing the bus industry today, including thought-provoking sessions targeted specifically for those involved with student transportation! Please note that while business sessions indicate association affiliations (OSBA, OMCA, OPTA), all sessions are open to all registrants unless shown as “by invitation only”.
 
Reserve your place today by registering on-line at www.ote.ca. If you have any questions or feedback about the various sessions, we’d appreciate hearing from you – please contact OSBA’s Safety and Legislation Consultant Alex Bugeya – abugeya@osba.on.ca or 416.695.9965 Ext. 4
Can Wi-Fi Make the School Bus an Effective Extension of the Classroom?

Article Source: School Bus Fleet (US)
Article Date: March 13, 2017


At a recent meeting that addressed how technology will impact the future of school transportation, one of the many interesting topics that came up was on extending connectivity to all students to enhance their ability to learn.

Michael Flood, vice president of strategy at Kajeet, which provides mobile broadband solutions that connect students to the internet outside of school, discussed with attendees at the IC Bus Next Stop Innovation Summit, which was held in Chicago in February, how the school bus of the future can become an extension of the classroom, helping all students learn more effectively. 

Kajeet offers two broadband solutions for schools. One is the Smart Spot, a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that a student can take anywhere. The other possibly the more cost-effective option for school districts, since every student aboard can access the service at once, is the SmartBus solution, a Wi-Fi router on the bus that students connect to from their mobile devices. The connection is managed by Kajeet on behalf of the school district. 

Kajeet limits use to educational purposes, filtering out content that isn’t child-appropriate and blocking entertainment such as Netflix and Spotify, keeping students on task and saving bandwidth, which keeps costs down. The SmartBus solution is currently in 40 school districts' fleets, including Miami-Dade County Public Schools. 

The internet technology gives all students aboard the bus the chance to potentially finish their homework on the ride home from school, leaving time for extracurricular activities or — what is seemingly unheard of these days — unstructured fun. 

For students who do not own a connectable device, such as a phone, tablet, laptop, or digital notebook, some school districts who install the technology on their buses have a one-to-one computing program in which they issue all students a device. Others have a checkout program in place to provide devices to students who don’t have them. 

Some districts have seen homework completion rates go up for students with the Wi-Fi access, Flood said. Additionally, since the company can put more robust antennae on the buses, it can pull stronger signals than students can get on their phones, so students in more remote, rural areas can also reap the benefits. 

The bus can also be equipped with a connection kill switch for the driver to use in case of emergencies, Flood said.

Another benefit is that onboard Wi-Fi could shift some of the cost burdens away from the transportation department to instructional departments. For districts with school buses that serve Title 1 schools, that funding can be spent on this service because it falls into the instructional category, Flood pointed out.

It could also potentially add up to 150 hours per year of Wi-Fi access for students to work on homework for the cost of about $10 per student or even less, he told School Bus Fleet in an interview. 

Although there isn’t yet a capability to push bus stop information to students through the Wi-Fi system, that is on the way, Flood said. 

Flood also noted that keeping the students on the bus occupied in this way can improve behavior by reducing anxiety. He shared a story of a bus driver who drove a route with serious behavior incidents and threatened to quit. Three weeks after the technology was deployed, the route saw a significant decrease in behavior incidents, changing from about three to five write-ups per week to none. 

Wi-Fi access, even if only available for schoolwork, can make the school bus ride more attractive to students, which cuts down on their requests to have their parents drive them to school. 

Another interesting benefit of installing the technology, Flood said in the interview, is that the router can serve other onboard technologies that also need an IP connection to the internet, from low-bandwidth applications, like GPS and telemetry, to high-bandwidth applications, such as the driver’s tablet and surveillance cameras. 

With all the potential benefits to students, the technology seems like a win-win, if it can be implemented cost-effectively. 
Next P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program Is Around the Corner – Register Today!

There are only a few spaces remaining in the next P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program scheduled on April 27, 2017. If you have received notification from the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to renew your Signing Authority, the P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program is the one for you!  Not only will you receive your recertification, you will refresh your training and facilitation skills, expertise and knowledge and network with seasoned driver trainers and Signing Authorities. 
 
Here is what previous program participants have said:
  • The program was informative, comprehensive, helpful and interesting.  It was fun while learning. 
  • It is always valuable to meet new people with new ideas.  It’s also great to remind us how to manage our time better.
  • Excellent review of training practices in a practical form.
  • Review of teaching techniques with a scripted training program was most valuable along with watching and marking presentations.
  • Very informative program, I learned a lot today.  It was a long day but there was lots of information.  I enjoyed the whole day.
Recertification programs scheduled for the balance of 2017:
  • June 21
  • July 8
  • October 26
  • December 6
Send in your registration form today! 
P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Programs are held at the Admiral Inn Burlington, www.admiralinn.com/burlington/.  Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact us for further information – info@osba.on.ca
SoCal 'Walking School Bus' an Option for Neighborhood Kids

Article Source: School Transportation News (Culver City, CA)
Article Date: March 13, 2017


The Walk 'n Rollers program at the Linwood E. Howe Elementary School in Culver City, California, now in its eighth year, has numerous parents and children participating in a walking school bus every Friday morning.

The Safe Routes to School programs were established in 2005 at the federal level to provide communities and schools the means to have children participate in active lifestyles and have fewer cars on the road, especially during morning school traffic and when they don't have the option of riding school buses due to walking distance regulations or budget cuts.

States such as California have since expanded the concept of walking and biking school buses as organized means of students getting to and from their neighborhood schools.

In 2012, Culver City was awarded a four-year $500,000 Federal SRTS Non-Infrastructure grant to fund a city-wide education and encouragement program. The goal was to create a sustainable program for Culver City Unified School District's five elementary schools and middle school. The Walk ‘n Rollers meet on different days of the week, or at least once per month.

Jim Shanman, Culver City's Safe Routes to School coordinator and a parent of a local student, said he founded the program due to the lack of options offered for children to engage in that promoted walking and biking to school.

Participating children are provided with an anonymous, free barcode tag that tracks their individual attendance at each event. The tag works like an electronic raffle ticket used to reward classes who walk to school.

The number of children who participate varies from school to school, but the walking school bus for Linwood E. Howe begins with about 15 children who meet at Carlson Park and can have as many as 60 children join in during the half mile walk to school.

Currently, the district and the city are working together to sustain the Walk ‘n Rollers program and to keep the existing leadership in place after the grant expires. 
Are Tracking Devices for Students with Autism on the Horizon?

Article Source: School Transportation News (US)
Article Date: March 13, 2017


The National Autism Association says 49 percent of parents reported their autistic children have “eloped” or wandered away from grocery stores, schools, parks and their homes. These children can be referred to as “runners” and are known to sometimes leave their “safe spaces.” 

In 2015, 31 individuals with autism wandered from safe settings and died, according to the Autism Safety Coalition. Examples include the tragic deaths of Kevin Curtis and Avonte Oquendo, children with autism who wandered from their safe environment and drowned. Kevin, a 9-year-old boy from Iowa, drowned in a river near a park in Iowa in 2008, and Avonte was a 14-year-old boy from Queens, New York, who drowned in the East River in 2014 after wandering from school. 

Student transporters in charge of students with autism invariably have stories of “runners” at the bus stop. So what can they do to keep these students from harm’s way and out of risky environments? 

To address this challenge, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) co-sponsored SB 2614, while Rep. Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey) introduced House Bill 4919. Both bills, though differing slightly, sought to appropriate funds for education and prevention of students who run, elope or wander from their safe environments with the use of tracking devices.  

While each bill failed to be enacted, Stuart Speilman, senior policy advisor and counsel for Autism Speaks, said both are expected to be re-introduced this session as they both carry wide support. “We must focus on the consensus that children wandering is a problem and the public needs to make sure all the people are safe,” he said. “Our first obligation is to make certain our kids are safe.” 

The intent is to provide federal funding through the Department of Justice for teaching kids with autism safety and swimming skills, providing training and education for school personnel, including school bus drivers, and allowing for safety devices, as well as tracking devices for locating missing children who have autism. 

Patrick Mulick, the autism coordinator for Auburn School District in Washington state, said the primary focus should remain on proactively keeping autistic students safe by preventing them from wandering. He called the school bus the “final frontier” of the classroom, adding that fear is the main emotion with autism.   

“Those students see the world through a different lens. When on a bus, often the kids are trying to get away or get to something,” Mulick said, adding that autistic students will often wander toward something they want. “It feels good to run. That desire automatically reinforces the run and not the danger.” 

Mulick stated a challenge for autistic students is dealing with the unexpected. Transportation personnel, he said, must be pro-active and distract the students from wandering, keep certain kids apart and set the routes to accommodate specific children. Mulick added that in doing so, kids need to know how long the bus ride will be, how many stops it will make and where the final stop will be. 
School Bus Safety Co. Introduces New Services

Article Source: School Bus Fleet (Hudson, OH)
Article Date: March 9, 2017


School Bus Safety Co. (SBSC) is adding several new services and products to its portfolio of offerings, the company announced recently.

Under the SBSC banner, the company will now provide tailored safety compliance audits and conduct on-site driver file reviews and safety training leadership programs for drivers and trainers. SBSC said that it will review and identify the highest at-risk areas within a school district’s or contractor’s safety and training process, and ensure that all federal and state procedures are in place.

“Having worked with over 3,000 school districts and numerous contractors, I have an extensive background selling safety and training content and have found the gap prohibiting success to be the execution of utilizing the content,” said Jeff Cassell, president of SBSC. “By adding our new suite of services, we will be able to close this gap and optimize the implementation of the content.”

Cassell said that as an independent third party, the company will review driver files to ensure that driving history records and criminal background checks have been completed.

“Our programs will assure school board members and other officials that the proper hiring procedures have been followed as well as reviewing and documenting the training processes,” he added. “School board members need to be confident they are in compliance, and to have an independent review is prudent. Districts and contractors that aren’t compliant can potentially find themselves in serious trouble.”

SBSC established itself as a provider of school bus driver safety and training programs. Through its catalog of DVDs and new online learning management system, the company has more than 100 modules available.
New Stop Arm Designed to Offer More Durability, Cut Maintenance Costs

Article Source: School Bus Fleet (Belton, MO)
Article Date: March 7, 2017


Specialty Manufacturing, a Safe Fleet brand, has released its new Defender electric stop arm, which features a new intelligent drive system for enhanced durability and reliability.

The stop arm’s new intelligent drive system is also designed to help reduce wind flutter and overall maintenance costs for the stop arm. It will replace the 7 Series stop arm. 

The new intelligent stop arm drive system includes a new motor with 200% more torque than previous versions, and a sealed design for increased reliability and reduced downtime, according to the company. An integrated closed loop controller with motor encoder was created to improve deployment accuracy. Obstruction detection technology helps prevent blade damage and can eliminate premature motor failures. 

Additionally, a new heavy-duty design features a 30% thicker blade, and an increased bend radii designed to improve strength and durability. A hinge arm with a heavier gauge and single-piece component further increase the strength of the stop arm, while improving its overall aesthetic, according to Safe Fleet.

“Defender Electric is an excellent addition to our line of school bus safety products. Its innovative design and improved reliability will help our customers reduce maintenance costs and at the same time ensure the safety of students outside the bus,” said Douglas Campbell, national account manager, school bus. “The new product also comes with some options, one of which is a new wind guard. This feature will be beneficial for high-wind states where weather conditions and high traveling speed of buses usually increase the stop arm wear.”
Order Your OSBA Publications Now!

Visit the OSBA website at www.osba.on.ca and click on the "STORE" tab from the home page to order the following publications. Or click on the links below and go directly to each order form:
Once you have completed the necessary order form, please scan/email it to info@osba.on.ca or fax it to 416-695-9977
 
Upcoming Events
 
2017  
Mar. 12-17 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program - SOLD OUT
Apr. 2-7 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program  - SOLD OUT
Apr. 9-12 2017 Ontario Transportation Expo – Conference and Trade Show
Apr. 27 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program
May 1-5 Alberta Student Transportation Advisory Council (ASTAC) Convention
May 3-5 OASBO 74th Annual Conference & Education Industry Show
May 7-12 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program - SOLD OUT
May 17 OSBA Webinar
June 21 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program
July 9-14 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program - SOLD OUT
Aug. 12 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program
Aug. 13-18 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program
Oct. 15-20 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program
Oct. 16-20 National School Bus Safety Week
Oct. 18 Professional School Bus Driver Appreciation Day
Oct. 25 OSBA Webinar
Oct. 26 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program
Dec. 6 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program
2018  
May 13-16 Canadian Pupil Transportation Conference (CPTC)
Copyright © 2017 Ontario School Bus Association
All rights reserved.  This publication is intended for the exclusive use of OSBA Members.  Reproduction without prior permission is prohibited.

Contact OSBA:
3075 Lenworth Drive, Mississauga, ON, L4X 2G3
Tel.416.695.9965 Fax 416.695.9977  
info@osba.on.ca | www.osba.on.ca
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Please address all enquiries and submissions to info@osba.on.ca  Opinions expressed do not necessarily express the opinions of the OSBA or its Board of Directors. Nor does acceptance of advertising constitute endorsement.






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