JOHNSTOWN -- While conducting routine paperwork processing, officials at HFM BOCES found that school bus drivers from the Greater Johnstown School District need to take immediate action to update their driver certification. HFM BOCES has enlisted Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES' School Transportation Services to provide the remedial training.
The paperwork processing is one of the steps HFM BOCES needed to take in order to complete the transition to a shared transportation service for both Johnstown and the Gloversville Enlarged School District.
"During a routine records check, we discovered lapses in required refresher training and physical exams. We are doing our due diligence now, and taking the necessary steps to bring these drivers up to par before adding them as BOCES employees," said HFM BOCES District Superintendent Patrick Michel. The drivers will become part of HFM BOCES shared transportation service on July 1, 2013.
The shared transportation service has been in the works after changes in state law allowed Gloversville and Johnstown school districts to enter into an agreement through HFM BOCES. Cost savings will be realized through shared administration, mechanics and maintenance at the Gloversville bus garage.
School bus drivers in New York state are licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles, but operate under safety regulations defined by the New York State Department of Education.
The process to achieve and maintain certification as a school bus driver requires several significant steps, along with annual refresher trainings.
Drivers must be 21 years of age and hold a class B Commercial Drivers License (CDL) with a passenger (PS) endorsement. Before getting behind the wheel of a bus loaded with children, drivers undergo training with a certified instructor and must pass a physical examination including drug, alcohol and controlled substance tests.
Potential school bus drivers submit to fingerprinting through the New York State Police and FBI, while the DMV examines the driver's past driving record. Drivers must also pass a 30-hour safety course within the first year.
Once bus drivers have their license and are certified to transport students, they must undergo an annual physical. Any medications, including over-the-counter medications, must be reported to their employer. Drivers are subject to random, unannounced drug, alcohol and controlled substance testing.
The DMV also conducts annual checks on a bus driver's personal license, and all accidents or tickets must be reported to his or her employer.
In addition, drivers must complete at least six hours of safety classes every year, along with a defensive driving and performance assessment checked by a certified instructor. Every two years, drivers must take and pass a written test and a physical performance test in order to maintain their driving status.