Final 2016 regional school bus driver conference promotes, teaches safety

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education, in collaboration with the Maine State Police and the Maine Association for Pupil Transport (MAPT), is hosting the final Regional Safety Conference of the 2016 year for those across the state working in school transportation.

These conferences, held in April and June, offer Maine school transportation personnel the ability to learn and practice transportation safety skills. The last of this year’s conferences will be held at Fort Kent Community High School on June 24 starting at 7:30 a.m., courtesy of MSAD 27.

Participants attend five workshops throughout the day to work on various skills such as safety, security, special needs transport, communication, and bully prevention. In addition, drivers compete against each other in the ultimate test of their skills of safely operating a school bus.

In Maine, about 80 percent of students ride a school bus, which is high compared to the national rate of 50 percent. During the school year in Maine, about 140,000 children are transported on 3,000 school buses by 2,200 school bus drivers over 30 million miles of roads.

Maine traditionally has one of the best safety records in the nation, due in part to our focus on safety which is supported by state statue. This safety record was evident last year, when a team from Maine took first place at the National Special Needs Team Safety event held in Texas. South Portland Transportation Director Lisa Gadway and MSAD 49 driver Greg McGoff were judged on: driving a bus, loading and securing students in wheelchairs, student management, and emergency evacuation. The event included training as well as a written exam.

At this final regional conference in Fort Kent, Gadway and McGoff will be sharing their skills by presenting a workshop on preparing for the special needs competition.

The first, second, and third place school bus driver winners of these regional conferences are invited to compete for the state championship at the annual conference in July at Sugarloaf. A team of drivers is selected at each regional event to participate in the state conference.

Members of the media are invited to attend on Friday, June 24 at Fort Kent Community High School where participants will be available for interviews from 7:30 a.m. through noon, with winners being announced at 2 p.m.

For more information, contact MSAD 27 Superintendent Benjamin Sirois at benjaminsirois@sad27.org or call 834-3189 or Maine DOE’s Transportation and Facilities Administrator Pat Hinckley at pat.hinckley@maine.gov.

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