EXPO General Session to Share Student Transportation Perspectives of Los Angeles, Las Vegas

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Transportation leaders from two of the nation’s largest school districts will share the stage at the STN EXPO on July 22 as they discuss budget cuts, the rise of technology, staffing issues and navigating the politics of beaurocracy.

The general session “Secrets from the Nation’s Largest Transportation Departments” features Enrique Boull’t, chief operating officer for Los Angeles Unified, and Frank Giordano, transportation chief at Clark County School District serving the Las Vegas area. Boull’t is a 36-year veteran of LAUSD and is the district’s former director of transportation. He now oversees all business operations, which include the transport of 52,000 students via a fleet of 1,300 district-owned buses and several hundred operated by contractors. Giordano, this year’s STN EXPO co-chair, got his start 31 years ago as a school bus mechanic and worked his way up to the director of transportation’s office in 2009. Clark County transports 120,000 students a day on more than 1,500 school buses. 

The general session will be moderated by former STN EXPO co-chair Pete Meslin, the director of transportation at Newport-Mesa Unfied School District in Costa Mesa, Calif., in a format similar to that of “Charlie Rose.” The no-frills interview show nationally syndicated on PBS features host Charlie Rose, an award-winning journalist and anchor of “CBS This Morning,” in front of a black curtain and sitting at table across from politicians, celebrities, entreprenuers, activitists and artists to discuss the day’s hot topics. Meslin, playing the role of Rose, said Boull’t and Giordano will share problems that are unique to extremely large organizations but that can also inform heads of smaller departments.

“For example, a driver shortage in either of their operations can be paralyzing to the operation and is not easily resolved. Similarly, a rise in fuel prices by as little as $0.01 can have a major cost impact,” Meslin added. “For this reason they both invest considerable time in planning and predicting. I expect us to spend a little time discussing issues like these and whether or not they are harbingers for what smaller districts will be experiencing soon.”

Meslin also said that the audience, which is open to all EXPO regular conference attendees as well as trade show exhibitors, will hear how LAUSD and Clark County use their considerable size to leverage solutions, establish trends and create opportunities.

“Does their size mean they can’t progress as quickly as others, or is it just the opposite? Most significantly, we will be discussing lessons we could all take from their experiences,” Meslin continued.

Later that morning on July 22, a breakout workshop continues the discussion by applying many of the lessons learned from the general session especially for smaller, more rural operations. “Rural Districts and Service Challenges” focuses specifically on scheduling, length of rides and student management, among other issues. Presenters for this session are Launi Schmutz-Harden, transportation director for Washington County School District in St. George, Utah; Charley Kennington, director of Innovative Transportation Solutions in the greater Houston area, and Michael Shields, director of transportation and auxiliary services at Salem-Keizer School District 24J in Salem, Ore.