Pete Japikse retired on Aug. 31 as state director of student transportation at the Ohio Department of Education and as steering committee chair for the 2015 National Congress on School Transportation.
Japikse started at the Ohio DOE in 2000, succeeding then state director Donnie Dutton. He also served as NASPDTS president in 2005 and 2006. After taking some time off, Japikse joins the Ohio School Boards Association on Oct. 1 in a newly created role that will administer student transportation services for local districts, much in the same way as he's done at the Ohio DOE for the past 12 years.
“Our association is really solid with a great reputation, and it’s an opportunity to keep working with the same people I am now and to keep the support network working,” Japikse told School Transportation News just weeks before his retirement from Ohio DOE took effect on Aug. 31.
He added the the Ohio DOE had yet to make a decision on a replacement, but said a major platform of Gov. John R. Kasich is to reduce the size of state government and instead contract out vital services. While Japikse's former staff continues to provide school districts with guidance on training, licensing, policymaking and technical support, Japikse told STN that the future of school bus management out of Columbus may be reduced to funding.
At the Ohio School Boards Association, Japikse said he has been tasked with helping schools continue providing educational support programs such as transportation even amid budget cuts. Japikse has prior experience championing these innovations during his work with NASDPTS as president from 2006-2008 and with the National School Board Association’s Council of Urban Boards of Education, or CUBE.
Japikse started in student transportation in 1979, when he supplemented his MBA studies with a part-time job with a Cincinnati-area school bus contractor as an accountant. He soon obtained a CDL and became a substitute driver and dispatcher, as well. He soon moved on to become a director of transportation at three local districts before joining the Ohio Department of Education.