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International School Bus Driver Roadeo Winners Announced

School buses are lined up and ready to go at the International School Bus Driver Safety Competition on Sunday, July 16, 2017 at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Indianapolis

Three school bus drivers were crowned over the weekend as division winners of the International Safety Competition held in Indianapolis.

The event was held in conjunction with the National School Transportation Association’s 53rd Annual Meeting and Convention and included a written exam on Saturday and behind-the-wheel skills on Sunday.

David Mansfield of Ottertail Coaches in Fergus, Minnesota won the small bus division while Billy Wiseman of Kanawha County Schools in Charleston, West Virginia finished in first place in the conventional bus division and Hannah Beard of First Student’s St. Charles, Missouri operation won the transit bus division.

The winners were honored Sunday night during NSTA’s Dinner and Awards Ceremony sponsored by IC Bus.

“The National School Transportation Association is delighted to host this event every year,” said NTSA President Todd Monteferrario. “It truly showcases the best of the best in school transportation as each of the competitors are tested on their knowledge, maneuvering and skill. School bus transportation is the safest mode of transportation available and these elite drivers show why at every turn. We congratulate all of the competitors in this international competition as well as the winners in each vehicle category.”

Below are the final announced results for all three divisions:

Small Bus
First Place: David Mansfield – Ottertail Coaches, Fergus, Minnesota
Second Place: Karina Larson – Forest Lake Area Schools, Forest Lake, Minnesota
Third Place: Mary Slate – Kanawha County Schools, Charleston, West Virginia

Conventional Bus
First Place: Billy Wiseman – Kanawha County Schools, Charleston, West Virginia
Second Place: Larry Hannon, Sr. – Centennial School District, Warminster, Pennsylvania
Third Place: Michael Castaneda – Northeast Independent School District, San Antonio Texas
Honorable Mention: Mark A. VanderZouwen – Grandville Public Schools, Grandville, Michigan

Transit Bus
First Place: Hannah Beard – First Student, St. Charles, Missouri
Second Place: Laurel Bird – Preston School District #2, Preston, Idaho
Third Place: Ted Dubbs – Lower Merion School District, Ardmore, Pennsylvania
Honorable Mention: Gene Thrasher – Bend-Capine School District, Bend, Oregon

See complete story here.

Ohio Debuts School Bus Safety-Focused License Plate

The Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation (OAPT) recently launched an education program featuring a specialty license plate that reminds motorists to stop for a loading or unloading school bus’ flashing red lights and stop arm.

Jeff Vrabel, Sr. is a past president of OAPT, and currently serves as chairman of the State and National Associations Council for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services as well as a representative for the Ohio Association of School Business Officials. In an article he wrote for the June issue of the SBO Quarterly magazine, he said OAPT “works very hard [in] educating the public in pupil transportation rules and safety practices.”

To that end, said Vrabel, OAPT launched the program to remind motorists to stop for school buses that have pulled over to pick up or unload children, part of which includes the new specialty license plate available through the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. State Rep. John Boccieri introduced the concept in House Bill 26, and it came to fruition in Senate Bill 207, which was signed into law last December. The license plate became available in May 2017.

The plate includes an illustrated image of a school bus, with the words “Flashing Red” above it and “Stop Ahead” underneath, underscoring the importance of stopping any time a school bus has its flashing red lights on. At the bottom it reads “Ohio Pupil Transportation…Safety First!!!”

“We thought that was a good way to educate the public,” Vrabel told STN.

Motorists who want the specialty plate pay $20 a year. SB 207 allocates $10 to the state and $10 to OAPT, “which shall use the money to support transportation programs, provide training to school transportation professionals, and support other initiatives for school transportation safety,” the law states.

Vrabel informed STN that the contributions OAPT receives from the sale of the “Ohio Pupil Transportation…Safety First!!!” license plates will be used “for continuing education for transportation supervisors,” which could include items such as education from NASDPTS or the National Association for Pupil Transportation as well as conference scholarships and video or printed training materials.

See complete story here.

Hero teen steer school bus from danger, saves dozens of children on board

Alabama high school student Jesse Frank was riding the bus home last month when he suddenly felt the vehicle start to veer off the road.

Children on the bus shrieked as they watched the driver, who was suffering a medical emergency, collapse behind the wheel — but the Pell City High School senior remained calm. The teenager sprung into action, bolting to the front of the bus and taking control of the steering wheel.

“I looked back at her [the driver] and she had her head rolled back, hands off the steering wheel, and I was like, yeah, I should do something,” Frank told CBS affiliate WIAT

Frank used one of his hands to push down on the brake until the bus came to a halt. He then dialed 911 and waited for assistance before removing his hand from the pedal. After help arrived, officials say, Frank stuck around to comfort the younger children who were shaken up.

“It didn’t seem that complicated in my head. I just planned out a few simple steps. I didn’t think it would be that hard to execute them,” said Frank to WIAT. “There were several elementary students crying. One of them asked to borrow my cellphone to make a phone call to their parents.”

School officials are now hailing Frank as a hero and crediting him with helping save the lives of 38 students on board — most of them elementary school students.

“There was no surprise, you know, if there was anybody out there who could go out there and take an action, he would be the one at the front of the list,” his principal, Tony Dowdy, told WIAT.

At a recent City Council meeting, Pell City Mayor Bill Pruitt presented Frank with a key to the city. 

“Jesse is a hero to all of those children and their families, and he is certainly a hero to us,” the mayor wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. “When asked for a comment, Jesse said that he didn’t think what he had done was really that big of a deal at the time. I don’t guess you would when helping others is just part of who you are.”

Dressed in his ROTC uniform, Frank humbly accepted the award.

See complete story here.