Thanks to a leak in the governor's office, according to Southern California public radio station KCRW, California school districts learned that the fate of student transportation operations a year from now could rest on voter approval of higher tax rates when the the 2012-2013 state budget proposal was introduced.
Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown announced that public K-12 education spending would decrease after state revenues were lower than expected. Home-to-school transportation is losing $248 million, or the remaining half of its budget for the current school year. This week, Brown said an additional $4.8 billion could be taken away from public education if voters reject a tax hike at the ballot box this November. The affect on transportation remains to be seen.
The governor's budget proposal was to be released on Jan. 10, but a staffer reportedly posted it online early by mistake.
With Valentine's Day less than six weeks away, it's once again time to make plans for the American School Bus Council's "Love the Bus." The program that celebrates the careers of school bus drivers nationwide traditionally is scheduled at school districts around the middle of February.
Last year, ASBC held a national Love the Bus event at a Takoma Park, Md., elementary school, which was attended by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Rep. ChrisVan Hollen (D-MD) and Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jerry Weast. Representatives from ASBC member organizations, including the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT), National School Transportation Association (NSTA), Blue Bird, IC Bus and Thomas Built Buses were also in attendance.
See photos taken at the 2011 event. This year's national Love the Bus is expected to be held during the third full week of February.
Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board raised plenty of eyebrows by making a "watershed" recommendation to all 50 states and D.C. to completely ban all forms of hand-held and hands-free cell phone conversations, texts, emails or social networking updates. On our Linkedin page, we asked the question — made the statement, really — "Never mind government infringement on personal rights, the current economy will likely dictate the debate on mobile communications behind the wheel." We wanted to see what our followers had to say. And, boy, do they have some thoughts to share.
Some users made the comment that technology already exists to prohibit or at least limit the ability of drivers to be using mobile communications equipment when driving. Others pointed out that technology on the school bus has not caught up to what is available in passenger vehicles. Others made comments about the federal government again trying to limit personal freedom. (It should be noted that the NTSB can only make recommendations to states, federal DOT agencies or national associations and has no authoritative power.)
Just before Christmas, LaHood weighed in on the debate, saying that distraction behind the wheel remains a problem but at the same time questioning the recommended NTSB ban. Then, on Jan. 2, the DOT final fule went into effect that bans interstate commerial motor vehicle drivers from texting or using hand-held mobile phones or similar devices.
What do you think?
Legislators in Hawaii are questioning the Department of Education there about a new report on how to reduce student transportation costs.
The persistent issue of bullying goes to a whole other level when the victims are those with autism and other special needs. A Jan. 3 article shed light on a recent case in Maryland, in which a family sued the school system and two principals alleging that they failed to address the bullying of their special-needs son. The jury ruled in favor of the school system based on lack of evidence.
However, the issue doesn’t end there. The article states that special education advocates want the state to add more detailed rules in its anti-bullying laws for educators to follow in reporting incidents and more scrutiny in situations that involve “sometimes-fragile” students. According to the article, Jonathan Brice, school support network officer for the Baltimore school system, said special-education students make up about a quarter of the students who are bullied.
And as young students with special needs grow up into adults, their vulnerability to being bullied continues. A Jan. 5 article reports on two recent incidents involving two young men who were physically attacked in public. In one case, a 22-year-old man with autism in Kansas was attacked outside of a Starbucks while he was minding his own business listening to music. He was left shaken and with a black eye. The second case was in Ohio, where a 20-year-old man with autism and epilepsy was beaten at a bus stop while he was waiting to be picked up to go to his vocational school. The young man believes he blacked out and had a seizure during the attack. The young man's mother is working at having the bully expelled from the school.