New York State Launches Awareness Program for Candidate School Bus Drivers
Like all states, New York City school districts are facing a shortage of school bus drivers this school year.
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul this week announced a multi-agency plan to address the shortage of school bus drivers. “The plan includes short-term steps to remove barriers and recruit traditional and non-traditional commercial driver license holders, expand CDL testing opportunities and improve processes, all designed to attract more drivers to school buses.” , indicates a press release.
In addition, New York State is also launching an awareness campaign targeting more than 550,000 CDL holders.
The NYDMV sent an email to all CDL holders explaining the dire situation. The letter stated that “as a current or former CDL holder you may be qualified to serve your community as a school bus driver this school year.” He continues to report that districts offer signing bonuses, retention bonuses and other incentives to attract candidates.
Meanwhile, Hochul’s added that interested drivers will be interviewed and their information will be shared with local districts. Schools can use the lists to recruit. In addition, the state will target unemployed drivers through the state Department of Labor. “The state will also work with partners from law enforcement, firefighters, the military and other organizations that have trained drivers to find more people interested in becoming school bus drivers,” the government added. Press release.
“Our schools and public health officials have moved mountains to ensure our children receive an in-person education this year, and we are working hard to make sure schools have adequate bus service to bring them. students in school and back, ”Hochul said. “While the school bus driver shortage is not unique to New York State, I have asked state agencies to use creative approaches and use all the tools at their disposal to help. districts affected by the shortage of bus drivers, so that we can bring in as many qualified drivers. bus drivers as fast as possible.
Long-term milestones include changes to driver training and licensing, as well as broader recruitment efforts.
Randolph Jerreld, transportation director at Rotterdam-Mohonasen Central Schools in Schenectady, New York, told School Transportation News he was not sure the letters were useful. He explained that his district had a difficult start to the school year.
“I thought we were full until September 2, when five staff members notified me,” Jerreld said. “We are currently short of three and a half innings each day before [driver] calls. We cover everything with my three sub-drivers and mechanics, but we haven’t had a lot of calls yet. The big thing is that the entrepreneur who made our extracurricular sports outings bailed us out. This leaves [us] with coaches, parents and coaches who make our sports trips. We are pushed into a corner that we cannot get out of. I have several drivers in training, but they are weeks / months away from helping.
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Meanwhile, Hochul said the DMV improves and speeds up the CDL supplementation process by removing the 14-day waiting period between license testing and road testing. Jerreld noted that depending on where his candidates are located, it might help with the training schedule.
DMVs will also work to increase the capacity to administer written exams and road tests, the statement said. In addition, for school personnel who already have a CDL, the state will implement accelerated tests to obtain a license to temporarily drive vans and buses.
The press release adds that the state is continuing conversations to examine long-term strategies that will help with recruiting. Earlier this month, Representative Joseph Morelle from New York urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to drop the CDL requirement for school bus drivers and instead establish a specific school bus license. . However, reactions to this strategy have raised concerns about School transport news ” The Facebook page.
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“The state encourages schools to seek creative and innovative ways to provide a wide range of benefits to school bus drivers that were not previously considered,” the New York press release added. “This includes signing and retention bonuses, extending driver benefits and other options to recruit drivers in a nationally competitive market. Schools can use federal funds to provide these benefits. Many school districts receive a significant percentage of these funds in reimbursement from the state and are able to offer more competitive compensation without absorbing the full cost locally.