By Louise Piper
Change can sometimes come sweeping in. At other times, change seems to creep up slowly and almost unnoticed. I think our association is experiencing a bit of both.
Speaking as your executive director who has been involved with the FAPT for over four decades, I see a lot happening due to the aging of our members. When I first joined the Florida Department of Education School Transportation Management team, our association members were primarily young and had young children or grandchildren that came as families to our summer conferences. It is the exception now, rather than the rule, for us to have any young children and many attendees do not bring their husband or wife any longer. They see our conference as a work event and not an opportunity for family and peer fellowship while working.
Another major change has been the loss of the shop foremen/parts specialists’ workshop sponsored by the FAPT. This was an annual meeting for the vehicle supervisors that was hugely popular. Where did it go? Why have we given it up and what for?
Lake Yale, which started as a workshop for driver trainers, is now struggling to attract 65 attendees when it was attended by 150-plus people years ago.
The FAPT has recently received requests for basic information related to requirements of the drug and alcohol testing regulations. The last workshop on this issue was over 20 years ago, and all districts have seen a great deal of change in their workforce since then.
We all are fully aware that our state funding formula is no longer relevant to our operations. Clearly, this is a topic that is begging for proactive involvement of our leadership working with local elected officials, district finance officers and superintendents. It will take the wisdom and experience of many to collaborate and tackle this issue. However, if we don’t initiate the discussion, who will?
Do we, as an association, need to step back and brainstorm on the direction we want our association to head? Can we offer the value our districts are seeking in the single summer conference format? Perhaps we need to exchange the conference setting for mini-topic-specific workshops held throughout the year in different locations around the state? Are we willing to give up the trade show and the opportunity to gain valuable new sources for available technology, security, vehicle updates, routing and operations research?
I have spent a great of time reflecting on these questions. I know how I would answer if asked. Are you as a valued member of the FAPT willing to share your thoughts on this subject? Pretend it is Facebook and take the dare to share.
We need to get our FAPT house in order and deliberate as a body on how and what we want to change. Collectively, it is time to determine what we are each willing to do to affect the changes that are sweeping and creeping into our association, before it is too late for us to have an impact.