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.  
November 28, 2019 - Issue 24

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Inside this Edition:
  1. New N.Y. Law Requires School Bus Safety Component in Driver’s Ed and Testing
  2. Parents Can Weigh in on Snow Days at Anglophone West Town Hall
  3. Zero Tolerance of Workplace Harassment: Striking the Right Balance
  4. Battery Science Earns Nobel Prize and Speeds Bus Electrification
  5. Special-Needs Expert to Boost Training With Q'Straint/Sure-Lok Award Winnings
  6. Theresa Anderson Strives to Break Barriers in Student Education, Transportation Training
  7. School Bus Driver Starts Winter Clothing Drive for Students
  8. Risk Management Solutions Provider Releases Report on School Safety, Security
  9. Order Your OSBA Publications Now!
  10. Upcoming Events
New N.Y. Law Requires School Bus Safety Component in Driver’s Ed and Testing

Full Article: School Bus Fleet
Article Date: November 21, 2019

A new New York (NY) state law requires at least one question about school bus safety on the written test for general driver’s license applicants and coverage of the topic in the state’s pre-licensing driver's education course. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed SB2960B, also referred to as the School Bus Safety Awareness Bill, into law, according to the New York State Assembly’s website. As School Bus Fleet (SBF) previously reported, the law would require the state commissioner to create a curriculum for the “school bus safety” component of the course that would include “an overview of traffic laws governing overtaking and passing school buses.” Additionally, the pre-licensing written test administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles is required to include at least one question that addresses school bus safety.

SBF previously reported that the Bill, which was sponsored by Senator Anna Kaplan, along with a companion Bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, passed both houses during the 2019 legislative session.

“As lawmakers, we have a solemn duty to ensure that we take every step necessary to ensure the safety of the children in our communities,” Senator Anna Kaplan said in a news release. “So when we have a situation where an estimated 40,000 drivers in New York are illegally passing school buses each day, we have a crisis on our hands that demands attention. That’s why I’m proud to have passed legislation ensuring that drivers in this state understand the laws on school bus safety, to better protect our kids on their way to and from school, and I’m so grateful to Governor Cuomo for signing it into law.”

The New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) thanked the governor in a news release for signing the Bill into law as well as Senator Kaplan and Assemblywoman Rosenthal for sponsoring the legislation. “Today is a big win for school bus safety in New York,” said Corey Muirhead, President of the NYSBCA. “Our association’s leadership has worked on this meaningful piece of legislation since day one with the goal of ensuring that all new drivers in this state fully understand that regardless of whether you are late to get to your destination, it is not worth a child’s life. Slow down, be alert and stop for school buses.”

The state also recently passed a law allowing school districts to install stop-arm cameras on school buses to catch motorists who illegally pass stopped buses and help law enforcement issue tickets to those offenders.
Parents Can Weigh in on Snow Days at Anglophone West Town Hall

Full Article: CBC News
Article Date: November 26, 2019

Snow days — they happen every year — but this year, the Anglophone West School District in New Brunswick wants to hear parents' concerns about the unexpected days off. The district will hold a series of town hall meetings to give parents a chance to speak on various issues, including what has become a controversial issue in New Brunswick: the number of days schools are closed because of weather. 

The first town hall meeting is on transportation and is taking place this week. "This, being our first one, we know that transportation captures the attention of a lot of people," said David McTimoney, the superintendent of schools in Anglophone West. McTimoney said he expects parents will want to discuss snow days and school closures.

In June, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies recently released a study titled "Missing in Action: School Storm Days, Student Absenteeism and the Workplace," which said an average of nine to 16 days are lost each school year because of storms or other weather-related events.

McTimoney said he understands snow days are a popular topic, and he wants to make it clear the decision to close schools isn't made lightly. "It's not a snap decision," McTimoney said. "The process starts the night before it begins, very early in the morning. "It's always a decision that is made with the information that we have available at that time. We know that there will be times when a few hours later, we will have wished that we made a different decision."

Although snow days are a pressing issue, McTimoney said, they won't be the sole focus of the evening. It will also cover school bus delays, the length of school bus rides and general questions about the transportation system. "That's really what an evening such as this encourages — conversation about that type of thing," he said.

"When I look at our transportation system, I feel that it's an effective system. It's not one without its bumps in the road that's for sure, in more ways than one." He said he believes the policies are reasonable, but he wants to hear what parents think.

"I don't know that we would necessarily go back to walking to school five miles each day uphill both ways, like it was when I went to school," he said, joking. But McTimoney said the district does have some authority to make changes, after considering staffing, money and safety.
Zero Tolerance of Workplace Harassment: Striking the Right Balance

Full Article: School Bus Fleet
Article Date: November 26, 2019

One of the important lessons for employers from the #MeToo movement is that their employees expect them to do more than they have in the past to prevent workplace harassment. Many employers have responded by reaffirming their commitment to “zero tolerance” of workplace harassment.

Unfortunately, sometimes commitments to “zero tolerance” are vague and, as a result, they can fuel misperceptions about how employers actually intend to respond to misconduct. While it is critically important for employers to take a stand against workplace harassment, such misperceptions are an important reminder that employers should be mindful of how they communicate their message of “zero tolerance” to employees and how they act on it.

When employees hear the recent pronouncements by employers about “zero tolerance” for workplace harassment, they tend to come to one conclusion: Every kind of workplace misconduct will be met with the exact same consequence — specifically, automatic termination. Is it prudent, however, for employers to adopt this kind of one-size-fits-all approach? Maybe. But maybe not. There are credible arguments that such an approach actually makes it more difficult for employers to fight workplace harassment. First, it can lead to cynicism about the fairness of employers’ processes for handling complaints about misconduct. Employees want their employers to conduct fair and effective investigations of reported misconduct. Resorting to automatic termination in every circumstance could undermine those desires.

Next, it can have a chilling effect on the reporting of workplace harassment. Employees generally want offenders to be held accountable and disciplined in a manner that is appropriate under the circumstances. But when employees interpret a “zero tolerance” policy to mean that any behavior, no matter whether serious or minor, will result in automatic termination, they may do nothing about it at all. When employees do not report misconduct, offenders may start to believe that their conduct is acceptable, or even welcome, in the workplace. And, when that belief sets in, there is a big risk that the innocuous bad behavior will escalate into much more serious misconduct. Finally, management or HR may start to rationalize and sweep minor complaints under the rug to avoid the automatic termination of employees.

Nearly everyone can agree that these outcomes are less than desirable. Indeed, even the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has noted that a literal application of “zero tolerance” in every circumstance can cause more harm than good.

There is rarely a one-size-fits-all approach to responding to complaints about workplace misconduct. To be sure, the notion of “zero tolerance” for workplace harassment is a very good one — employers should communicate to employees that they will not tolerate any kind of unwelcome conduct in the workplace. One of the goals here is to ensure that misconduct is not repeated. Of course, sometimes, the appropriate response will be automatic termination. But other times, just like with other forms of workplace misconduct, employers should strive to strike a balance — that is, they should hold employees accountable and discipline them in a manner that is proportionate to the misconduct at issue. Such an approach hardly makes employers tolerant of workplace harassment.

Even before the #MeToo era, workplace harassment complaints have steadily climbed. The steady increase suggests that, unfortunately, traditional anti-harassment policies and training alone are not stopping workplace harassment from occurring. Thus, it is high-time for employers to consider expanding their approach to harassment prevention.

Employers should start to think about new and creative ways to stop workplace harassment. Those that do so likely will benefit as society’s expectations regarding the employer’s role in this process change. In addition to traditional anti-harassment policies and training, training should also revolve around:
  • The role of workplace culture.
  • Implicit bias, sensitivity, and bystander training.
  • Management protocols for addressing employee concerns.
  • Team-building to foster psychological safety among employees.
A prevention program built around these principles, among others, will help employers do more than just comply with the law — it will reinforce the notion that everyone plays a critical role in preventing workplace harassment (or any other kind of misconduct, for that matter) and creating a successful workplace culture. It also will empower employees with the tools to step in and stop inappropriate behaviors. Such tools will provide tremendous benefit to employers and employees in promoting ongoing awareness of and response to this challenging issue.

This story initially ran in Metro magazine, School Bus Fleet's sister publication, on April 3, 2019.
Battery Science Earns Nobel Prize and Speeds Bus Electrification

Full Article: Bus and Motorcoach News
Article Date: November 25, 2019

As costs go down for producing lithium-ion battery packs, zero-tailpipe-emission electric buses are getting closer to cost parity with buses powered by internal combustion engines.

Battery technology is advancing, too, and with demand increasing for electric vehicle (EV) buses, the economy of scale for production will continue to lower the overall cost of ownership, said Dustin Grace, Vice President of technology for Proterra Inc., which designs and manufactures EV buses in California and South Carolina. “Based on the merits of the cost to run, we’re already past that crossover point,” Grace said of EV buses competing on the cost to operate vs. diesel buses. “There’s the inconvenience of switching, which is what we’re working on to overcome.”

Costly charging systems and an adequate electrical grid for recharging bus fleets are among the challenges for the EV bus industry. The vehicle range and fire safety of lithium-ion batteries are other key concerns. Still, the overall trajectory of the technology is inspiring optimism for cleaner, quieter EV buses that have lower energy costs and generally require less maintenance than buses powered by internal combustion engines.

In a recent report, Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts annual sales of EV buses for the United States, Europe and China will increase from less than half of all bus sales in 2019 to 70 percent by 2030. To understand growth in the EV bus market, it’s worth looking at advances in battery technology that made it possible. That work goes back more than 40 years but has accelerated this century. In early October, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to three scientists - M. Stanley Whittingham, John Goodenough and Akira Yoshino, for their work in developing lithium-ion batteries.

Whittingham started work on the foundations of lithium-ion batteries in the 1970s during the U.S. energy crisis. Goodenough advanced the research and Yoshino created the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in 1985, according to the Royal Swedish Academy. In the 1990s, lightweight and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries were put to use in a wide range of electronics, including smartphones, laptop computers and eventually electric vehicles.

“The battery has enabled the development of cleaner energy technologies and electric vehicles, thus contributing to reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and particulates,” the Royal Academy said in announcing the Nobel winners.

The average cost of lithium-ion batteries per kilowatt-hour is down about 85 percent since 2010 as a result of economies of scale and advances in the technology, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Proterra’s Grace said today’s lithium-ion batteries store five times as much energy as the old nickel-metal hydride batteries used in Toyota’s hybrid vehicles. Plus, the cost of lithium-ion batteries has fallen from about $1,000 per kilowatt-hour to less than $200, he said. “It should continue (falling) to approach the holy grail of $80 to $100 per kilowatt-hour by 2030 for a full-blown battery pack,” said Grace, who started working in the EV battery space for Tesla in 2007.

In the North American market, Thomas Built Buses Inc., a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, has developed the Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley school bus, powered by Proterra’s battery packs. The EV school bus charges in three hours and has a range of about 120 miles.

Grace said school buses are well suited for EV technology, since most routes are less than 100 miles per day. EV school buses can be charged overnight and recharged for afternoon service after delivering students to school in the morning.

The Thomas Built Jouley school buses with Proterra battery packs will be assembled in High Point, North Carolina, with production starting in 2020. As for safety, Grace noted that Proterra has invested millions of dollars in testing its vehicles and battery packs. The company is also involved in safety committees of the Society of Automotive Engineers that are developing guidelines for EV buses that could evolve into federal standards. Proterra’s battery packs are mounted beneath the floor of its buses between the axles, which provides protection from collisions, isolates them from passengers and lowers the center of gravity for the vehicle.
Special-Needs Expert to Boost Training With Q'Straint/Sure-Lok Award Winnings

Full Article: School Bus Fleet
Article Date: November 13, 2019

As the winner of this year’s National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and Q’Straint/Sure-Lok Special Needs Transportation award, special-needs expert Therese Pelicano is planning to use her award winnings to enhance wheelchair securement training for her district's transportation staff. Pelicano, a transportation manager for Frederick County (MD) Public Schools, was presented with the award during this year’s NAPT conference in Columbus (OH).

Pelicano, as well as every driver and trainer in her district, will receive free enrollment in Q’Straint’s Wheelchair Securement 101, an online training course designed to teach transportation personnel how to properly secure passengers who use wheelchairs. She will also receive a $500 grant for additional education funding.

The NAPT Special Needs Transportation Award — now in its 25th year, was designed to honor a pupil transportation professional for their efforts in making school transportation the safest, most effective way of getting students to and from school. “I am honored and humbled to win the NAPT Special Needs Transportation award presented by Q’Straint/Sure-Lok,” Pelicano said. “It’s nice to be recognized by the industry that you work in. I have been doing this a long time and I am very passionate about student transportation safety.”

“Therese’s knowledge and expertise are an asset to our school system. She has played a vital role in establishing and providing a comprehensive, hands-on training program,” said Jeannie Thompson, another transportation manager for Frederick County Public Schools. “Therese is always looking for ways to provide additional education and support for her immediate staff and for the school staff who may come into contact with buses.”

In addition to providing new training initiatives for her district, Pelicano has conducted training for the state of Maryland for students in safety seats and for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Pelicano has also contributed as a source to several SBF articles on special-needs transportation, from getting school bus drivers and aides involved in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process to understanding and managing challenging special-needs student behavior. In terms of Pelicano's future, she said that she plans to work in pupil transportation safety training on a national level, offering her skills and expertise on wheelchair securement to school districts across the country.
Theresa Anderson Strives to Break Barriers in Student Education, Transportation Training

Full Article: School Transportation News
Article Date: November 22, 2019

During her almost 30-year career, Theresa Anderson has worked to help students gain access to education via the yellow school bus and to empower student transporters, especially women, through training and leadership development. Like so many student transporters, Anderson started her career as a school bus driver in 1990 following the birth of her daughter. Back then, she was looking for a job that fit her schedule and offered benefits. At the time, her mother was a school bus driver trainer for a neighboring district and loved her job. When looking at work opportunities Anderson said, “Why not?” She began her career working at Cherry Creek Schools near Denver (CO) by driving a stick-shift compressed natural gas bus. Anderson said she was privileged to be a member of the first Commercial Driver’s License class with Cherry Creek Schools. To this day, she holds a current CDL.

Anderson continued to move up the district transportation ladder. She became a scheduler and then manager of routing and planning, and then a terminal supervisor. “I will never forget the day I walked in and our then Director Joe Mirabella and Operations Manager Kanoe Cockett informed me I was now the chairperson for the Colorado State Pupil Transportation Association (CSPTA),” Anderson recounted. “My mouth literally hit the floor.”

Anderson said she knew nothing about special needs transportation at that time and realized she would have a lot of homework. She said this announcement was followed by Mirabella handing her the National Congress School Transportation (NCST) National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures manual and saying, “Well, read this then.” “The rest is history,” Anderson continued. “But I do have to give gratitude to my mentors, as they believed in me and pushed me forward.”

In January 2008, she opened Anderson Consulting, LLC. with her husband David. The company “works to provide resources that allow for operational excellence for transportation and enhance students’ educational career,” she said.  Theresa Anderson also now operates TM Anderson Consulting, which she started in 2011. The company focuses on other student transportation operations. Anderson said her passion is fueled by the fact that districts are often burdened with inefficient systems and processes that create barriers to education.

She also continues to serve on the CSPTA, in which she has held both officer and member positions, including as association president, since 1998. Anderson currently serves as a trustee for the organization, and in 2000, she was selected as operations person of the year. On top of that, Anderson was recently reelected as the National Association of Pupil Transportation Region 5 representative for the western states and she also serves on the general operations writing chair for the NCST.

Anderson is also involved in the Women in Transportation (wit.) group that started on Facebook several years ago. It focuses on developing global leaders and organizes the school bus roadeo that is held annually at the Transporting Students with Disabilities and Special Needs Conference in March.

Anderson noted that it’s the people and friends she has made that keep her in the school bus industry. They keep her involved and dedicated. While the industry is continuously changing, Anderson has partnered with people who have become a big family.

One of the hardest obstacles for Anderson to overcome while in a position of leadership was age and maturity. While she was fortunate to be a member of leadership at a young age, she said it came with steep learning curves. She encourages young leaders to step up and not miss a learning opportunity when it is presented to them. While she believes women are well-represented in the driving and training field, she sees it lacking in leadership positions. “I am not exactly sure where the disconnect happens,” Anderson added. “Women’s voices need to be brought to the table.”
School Bus Driver Starts Winter Clothing Drive for Students

Full Article: School Bus Fleet
Article Date: November 22, 2019

A school bus driver in Lewiston (MA) has started a winter clothing drive to help keep students warm during the colder months. Ivy Corliss, a bus driver with Lewiston Public Schools, developed the idea for the clothing drive after one of her students was in tears after she had no winter gear while waiting for the school bus, Corliss wrote in the description of a Facebook group for the initiative. Corliss added that she found extra clothes for the student at her home and wanted to continue providing winter gear to other students with the help of the community and school bus drivers. “Having extra scarves, hats, and mittens on the buses, as well as making sure the schools have boots, snow pants, scarves, hats, and gloves will help keep kids warm this winter,” she wrote.

Corliss is urging the community to donate various winter clothing items that can fit students who are in kindergarten through high school. She also said that she is teaming up with Hudson Bus Lines and school nurses at Lewiston Public Schools and Androscoggin County Public Schools to accommodate more students with winter clothing.

“My hope is to be able to extend this amazing journey and reach as many schools as possible in the state of Maine,” Corliss added. “Thank you all so very much for helping. With your help, we can spread love and warmth to so many.”

On November 21st, Corliss hosted a clothing donation drop-off at the Lewiston Mall. That same day, she also posted an update in the Facebook group stating that she will soon be working with all Maine school districts — with the help of the state Department of Education — to bring more winter gear to students in need. In the meantime, Corliss said that she plans to form a committee to develop contacts in all of the state's school districts to help coordinate and get warm winter gear to buses and schools.
Risk Management Solutions Provider Releases Report on School Safety, Security

Full Article: School Bus Fleet
Article Date: November 26, 2019

A risk intelligence and safety communications provider in Arlington (VA) has released a new report detailing best practices of early warning threat detection and reporting for K-12 school safety and security programs. LiveSafe's report, “Sources & Methods: The LiveSafe Guide to Early Warning Threat Detection and Reporting For School Safety and Security Programs,” is based on 18 months of interviews with more than a dozen current and former campus law enforcement professionals, former school resource officers, survivors of school shootings, university researchers, and education risk and insurance professionals, according to a news release from LiveSafe.

The report features an introduction by Mark Sullivan, the 22nd director of the U.S. Secret Service. It also draws upon a training session conducted by the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center on its latest report, “Protecting America’s Schools.”

“This new report brings the best thought leadership available from our partners in the federal government, as well as the many campus police chiefs and education risk experts who shared their experience with us and applies it to our most precious asset — protecting our children,” said Carolyn Parent, President, and CEO of LiveSafe. “Our roots run deep in education, safety, and security, and this report has something for every school administrator looking for guidance and tactical steps they can take to improve their safety and security program.”

“Our goal was to help educate school officials on the role and value of community-sourced risk reporting to the overall threat assessment process,” said Dan Verton, the content leader and strategist for LiveSafe and a former intelligence officer and homeland security training consultant. “After 18 months of interviews with school safety experts, current and former campus law enforcement officers, and the knowledge gained from the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center, I believe this paper is an important addition to the national dialogue on school safety and security.”

LiveSafe said that community reporting of concerns about potential risks is essential for school safety and security programs. In addition, the risk intelligence provider said that reporting should be discreet, allowing for community members to share their concerns anonymously, and conducted through a mobile app.

The full report, “Sources & Methods: The LiveSafe Guide to Early Warning Threat Detection and Reporting For School Safety and Security Programs,” can be found here.
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