Local school districts hold ‘Drive-A-Bus’ day

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CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Many, if not all school districts in the Capital Region are facing a severe school bus shortage and the issue only seems to be getting worse. Now there’s a local push to bring in more bus drivers.

Belinda Govich is the President of the Capital Area Chapter of the New York Association for the Pupil Transportation. The organization put together a unique event called “Drive-A-Bus”, allowing potential drivers to take the wheel.

The Shenendehowa Central School District is currently down, between permanent and substitutes, 30 drivers from 2020 and this is affecting their capacity to transport all the students in need of a ride to school. “It’s all-hands-on deck with many of our managers and mechanics driving daily. This obviously has an impact on our ability to perform our regular responsibilities. We are in crisis mode right now. Something has to give but not the safety of our children,” says Belinda.

 “Transportation officials and professionals, bus drivers, bus aids and monitors — they are heroes, and we want you to be a hero,” says Kyle Belokopitsky, Executive Director at New York State Parents and Teachers Association. Officials say it doesn’t take much to be this kind of hero.

The basic requirements for becoming a school bus driver include attainment of a federal Commercial Drivers License (CDL) along with a Passenger endorsement and a School Bus endorsement that allows them to transport children to school. Drivers must also complete medical examinations, drug and alcohol tests, criminal background checks and safety-related training required by the State and Federal authorities.

Across the nation, school districts and private contract operators are seeking ways to increase the available driver pool. Many are increasing the wages for drivers along with offering hiring bonuses and various other financial benefits. The market for CDL drivers has tightened up in recent years and the COVID pandemic has had an impact as well.

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