New York is asking school districts to pursue creative ways to find bus drivers.

Governor Kathy Hochul is also directing state agencies to launch a recruitment effort to persuade Commercial Driver’s License holders to become school bus drivers.  Interested license holders will be surveyed and their information shared with school districts that need drivers.

Maximilian Simson via Unsplash
Maximilian Simson via Unsplash

The Democrat says she is planning short term steps to remove barriers to licensing, expand CDL testing opportunities and look to other agencies that have commercial license holders, like military and firefighters, to find more bus drivers.

Hochul says the State Department of Labor will look through listings of unemployed drivers looking for qualified candidates.  In addition, the Department of Motor Vehicles is enhancing and expediting for CDL completing by removing the 14-day waiting period between getting a permit and taking a road test.

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New CDL Driver Testing Sites will be opened through a partnership with the State University of New York, New York Racing Association, the Office of Genera Services and the Thruway Authority to use their large lots for road tests.

School staff who currently hold a CDL but aren't driving bus, rapid testing will be set up to obtain a permit to drive vans and buses temporarily.

As for districts, they are reminded they can use signing and retention bonuses and expand benefits and other options to recruit drivers. Schools can also use federal funds to help pay for additional benefits.

There has been a shortage of school bus drivers for years and the problem has only been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.

A lack of drivers can mean longer commutes for students as well as cancelation of field trips, sports travel and other extracurricular activities.

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