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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 2, 2016 - Issue 5

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Inside this Edition:
  1. Ontario Budget 2016 Highlights - Student Transportation Impacts
  2. Update on Upcoming P.R.I.D.E. Programs
  3. OTE Announces Special Education Session Aimed at Business Owners
  4. Safe Fleet Expands Grant Program to Help Communities Prevent Bullying
  5. It's Actually Really Important That Kids Take The School Bus
  6. Upcoming 2016 Events
Ontario Budget 2016 Highlights - Student Transportation Impacts

The Ontario Budget, 2016 JOBS FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW, was presented in the Legislature on February 25th.

There were no specific references to student transportation, but the following Budget announcements have cost/savings impacts:

  • Annual (automatic) increases in driver and vehicle licensing fees equal to the inflation rate to protect the sustainability and quality of the services;
  • 4.3 cents per litre increase in gasoline prices as a result of Ontario’s cap and trade program;
  • Elimination of the $30 Drive Clean fee to government;
  • Postponement of the Ontario Retirement Pension Program to 2018.

The full Budget document is available from the Ministry of Finance website – www.ontario.ca/budget

The annual Grants for Student Needs (GSN), including details on student transportation funding for 2016-2017, is expected to be released in late March.

Update on Upcoming P.R.I.D.E. Programs

The March 13-18 (March break) and May 1-6 regular P.R.I.D.E. Programs are currently sold out.  The next available program is July 10-15.  If you have any upcoming training requirements, the P.R.I.D.E. Program would be pleased to conduct an additional program in April if twelve confirmed registrations are received.  The registration form can be found at the following link: http://www.osba.on.ca/files/PRIDE-registration-form-2016.pdf   As well, the April 20th P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program date has been changed to April 28th.  This registration form can be found at the following link: http://www.osba.on.ca/files/Registration_Form-PRIDE-Recertification-Pgm-2016.pdf  For more information, please contact info@osba.on.ca or 416.695.9965 Ext. 6.
OTE Announces Special Education Session Aimed at Business Owners - One More Reason for Bus Operators to Register for this Year's OTE April 24-27

OTE is excited to offer a special 90-minute session at this year’s OTE that business owners won’t want to miss. John Hotson, a marketing strategist with over 35 years of experience working in large and small organizations and founding partner of the Business Transition Alliance, will lead a discussion to help bus operators maximize the value of their business.
 
As business owners begin the inevitable process of transitioning their business…. whether that means selling the business outright, handing it off to family members or perhaps just stepping back and providing a guiding hand….they ultimately need to come to terms with what truly drives the value of their business.  Identifying the things that build value and making that transferable to the next generation of owners can be a challenging undertaking.
 
During this session, scheduled for Monday April 25th from 2:45 pm to 4:15 pm, John will review what drives value and helps a company align its behaviours and activities inside the company with the expectations and value perceptions outside the company – thereby increasing the value of the business from a prospective buyer’s point of view.
 
Attending this session will help business owners learn how value drivers are rooted in organizational routines that include the management and maintenance of key assets, building recurring revenue streams and effective resource deployment to maximize cash flow. As John puts it, “Its sounds simple, and it is. But simple does not always equal easy.”
 
To register for OTE, go to www.OTE.ca. Early bird registration fees are available until April 1st. 
Safe Fleet Expands Grant Program to Help Communities Prevent Bullying

Article By: School Transportation News (STN), (Belton, MO)
Article Date: February 29, 2016


Safe Fleet, the leading provider of safety solutions for fleet vehicles, and its subsidiaries are expanding their nationwide “United Against Bullying” Grant program to offer up to $55,000 in grant funding for anti-bullying education and awareness initiatives empowering youth. The grant application process opens today and will continue through June 30th, 2016. Funds will be distributed to successful applicants who present the best action plans and strategies to address bullying in their communities and prevent abusive behavior.

“Last year, when we launched the United Against Bullying campaign, the Grant program was a great success and had a big impact on students”, says John R. Knox, President and CEO of Safe Fleet. “We received over 65 applications from school transportation departments across the United States and Canada. Each of them proposed great educational plans and initiatives rewarding positive student behavior, supporting emotionally distressed young people and training school bus drivers to prevent bullying. The success of the program inspired us to reinforce our commitment and offer grant funding to not only school communities, but other organizations working on bullying prevention and designing respectful communities”.

As part of the United Against Bullying campaign, the 2016 Grant program will be open for applications from official Pink Shirt Day, February 24th until June 30th.  To be eligible for funding, applicants have to present a clear action plan or strategies to prevent bullying in their communities and engage youth. Safe Fleet and its subsidiaries will present grant awards to winning school districts and organizations for the implementation of their anti-bullying programs and staff training. Safe Fleet will also entertain any applications to provide fleet safety equipment such as video cameras and recording systems to address bullying on-board the school bus or improve overall student safety.

The application form and detailed information about the Grant awards can be found on the official site of the United Against Bullying program at www.unitedagainstbullying.net
It's Actually Really Important That Kids Take The School Bus

Article By: The Huffington Post, Courtesy of EdSource (California)
Article Date: February 29, 2016

Students who ride the school bus in the critical first year of formal education – kindergarten – are absent less often and have lower odds of being chronically absent, a key indicator of future academic success, according to a new study.

The “school bus effect” improves kindergarten attendance in families of all income levels, said UC Santa Barbara professor Michael Gottfried, who conducted the study in partnership with the Truancy Reduction Pilot Projects initiative of California Attorney General Kamala Harris. The unpublished study, “Linking Getting to School with Going to School,” used a nationally representative sample of 14,000 kindergartners drawn from U.S. Department of Education data. It is believed to be the first to quantify the effect of school bus transportation on chronic absenteeism.

Kindergarten was once considered by some to be a relatively insignificant grade level – it is still not mandatory in California until age 6. But as the heft of kindergarten curricular offerings has increased, so have the ramifications of missing formative instruction. Research has linked chronic absenteeism in kindergarten – defined as missing 10 percent or more of school days – to lower achievement in future grades in math and reading, an increase in problem behavior and difficulty in obtaining a score of “proficient” on California’s 3rd-grade reading test. In turn, students who struggle with reading in 3rd grade are less likely to graduate from high school on time.

“We know what factors contribute to chronic absenteeism,” said Gottfried, who presented his findings at a Sacramento event last month hosted by the nonpartisan research group Policy Analysis for California Education. (See his presentation here. The school bus research begins at 45:51.) He reeled off a list of factors that keep students out of school, including untreated asthma, boredom with classroom instruction, suspensions and bullying. But, he said, “we don’t have a lot of research on what to do and how to intervene.”

His partnership with the attorney general is an effort to identify and test interventions that could be replicated in school districts across the state, he said.

The positive results of the school bus study surface against the backdrop of California’s dwindling school bus transportation system, which transports one in eight students, down from one in four in the late 1970s. State funding for transportation is locked at early 1980s reimbursement rates, according to a 2014 report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, and some districts charge parents fees for bus service, including the San Diego Unified School District, which charges $500 per school year for one student, $250 for a sibling and no additional charge for other siblings. Other districts have decided to no longer offer a bus service except for students with disabilities, a change Long Beach Unified School District will make beginning in 2016-17, a district spokesman said.

The study highlighted the potential effectiveness of addressing the logistics of getting students to school, which include lack of bus fare, cars that don’t work and unsafe routes. Dan Sackheim, an educational options consultant for the California Department of Education, co-leads attendance workshops for educators that address a range of issues – Are administrators telling parents that attendance is crucial to academic success? Do students feel safe and welcomed at schools? Sackheim attended Gottfried’s presentation.

“I hadn’t been thinking of school buses,” he said.

Riding the school bus has the most positive effect – a 20 percent increase in kindergarten attendance – in families where the mother doesn’t work, the travel time to school is greater than average or the student has not attended preschool, Gottfried said.

“Kindergarten is a big shock to the family system,” Gottfried said, particularly if the child hasn’t attended preschool, which he called “boot camp, not just for the kids, but for the parents.” As an aside, Gottfried mentioned that in an earlier study, he found that attending preschool reduced chronic absenteeism, a result he attributed to families overcoming the same logistical and emotional challenges that first-time kindergarten families face.

Entering kindergarten is a time “full to the brim with transitions,” Gottfried said, and transitions create stress. The child needs to be awakened, dressed, fed, equipped with a lunch and transported to school by a certain time. The parent has to manage the new routine –  and some days go more smoothly than others. Stressed parents create stressed children, he said, and stressed children sometimes balk at going to school.

In families where one parent is not working and is staying home, perhaps with a younger child, it can seem just as easy to keep the kindergartner at home, Gottfried speculated. Working parents, in contrast, are leaving the house anyway.

The lumbering yellow school bus provides a structure, Gottfried theorized. “If parents are new at this, or uncertain, here is something that shows up every day at your door at 7 o’clock, or every day at the corner at 7:30 – same place, same time, every day.”

Yet logistical support doesn’t have to require a school bus, he said. “How can we induce the ‘school bus effect’ when there is not a school bus in the district?” he asked.

Gottfried’s research will continue for the next several months to explore other possible interventions. Pilot intervention tests, which are funded by foundation grants, could roll out in three districts in Northern, Central and Southern California in 2016-17, he said.

Nationwide, 10 percent of kindergartners miss more than 10 percent of school, while an additional 14 percent of kindergartners are just shy of being chronically absent, Gottfried said. In California, kindergartners are the most likely of any elementary students to be chronically absent, according to the 2015 In School + On Track absenteeism report by Harris. In the report, Harris stated, “It is a solvable problem.”
Upcoming 2016 Events
 
Mar. 12 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program
Mar. 13-18 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program
Mar. 15-18 Alberta Student Transportation Advisory Council (ASTAC) – Annual Conference
Mar. 30-Apr. 1 Student Transportation Association of Saskatchewan (STAS) – Annual Conference
Apr. 16-21 Canadian Pupil Transportation Conference (CPTC)
Apr. 24-27 Ontario Transportation Expo (OTE) – Conference – International Plaza Hotel, Toronto
Apr. 26 Ontario Transportation Expo (OTE) – Trade Show – International Centre (Hall #5), Toronto
Apr. 28 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program
May 1-6 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program
May 9-11 Association of School Business Officials of Alberta (ASBOA) – Annual Conference and Trade Show
May 25 OSBA Webinar
Jun. 22 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program
Jul. 10-15 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program
Aug. 7-12 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program
Sept. 28 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program
Oct. 16-21 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program
Oct. 19 OSBA Webinar
Nov. 23 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification
Copyright © 2016 Ontario School Bus Association
All rights reserved.  This publication is intended for the exclusive use of OSBA Members.  Reproduction without prior permission is prohibited.

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