Students, Parents, and Schools Celebrate School Bus Driver Appreciation Week Oct. 22-26

A school bus driver’s career is about safely delivering the world’s most precious cargo – our students. Making a positive difference in the life of a child is what motivates school bus drivers.

Locally, parents, teachers, and superintendents celebrate National School Bus Driver Appreciation Week by making special cards, delivering special snacks, talking with drivers about how much their commitment to student safety means to families, schools, and the community, and learning about a day in the life of a school bus driver. School district transportation directors celebrate National School Bus Driver Appreciation Week by providing driver safety training at the district. It’s all about safety first.

Historically, Maine schools celebrate National School Bus Driver Appreciation Week during National School Bus Safety Week which occurs annually during the third week in October. It is a time for Mainers to reflect upon the outstanding job performance of our school bus drivers who transport students to and from school and school related events throughout the year traveling over 30 million miles of urban and rural roads. In Maine about 80 percent of students ride the school bus which is much higher than the national average of 50 percent.

School bus drivers provide an essential service. They are responsible for conserving the comfort, safety, and welfare of students they transport. Should a critical incident occur that requires student relocation, school bus drivers will be called on to deliver students to a safe haven.

A typical day in the life of a school bus driver means arriving early, performing daily pre-trip bus inspections, knowing what students ride the bus, where each student lives, and what school each student attends. During the day drivers may deliver students to field trips or education events and they may work at the school as a bus technician, safety officer, software technician, or custodian. At the end of each day the driver performs a post-trip bus clear and inspection to secure the bus in preparation for the next day.

School bus drivers like to drive, enjoy working with students, care about children’s safety, have great people skills, remain calm under pressure, and have flexible or full-time work schedules. School bus drivers must receive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) commercial driver’s license (CDL) with school bus S and passenger P endorsement. This requires additional driving and skills tests that are administered by a certified examiner. School bus drivers must pass federally regulated skills and knowledge evaluations which are conducted with a written and driving exam. Federal regulations require random drug testing. Maine regulations require a background check and physical exam to determine driver fitness for duty. Important qualities for school bus drivers are good customer services skills, normal hand-eye coordination, good hearing and visual ability, patience, and good physical health. School bus drivers are the first school employee students see at the beginning of each school day and the last one they see at the end of the school day.

For information about how to become a school bus driver contact the Maine Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT) http://www.maptme.org/.

Interactive Three-day Workshop on the Application of School Transportation Software

Transfinder University is coming to Augusta, Maine!  Maine public school transportation staff are invited to attend a three-day workshop which will provide participants with information regarding bus routing, map editing, geo-coding, pre-routing, custom reporting, and more to optimize their local district transportation operations.  Public school districts using Transfinder are strongly encouraged to participate in this workshop, as it will provide refined knowledge and practice on the routing module used to enhance transportation efficiency, logistics, reporting, and safety.

This computer-based intensive workshop will be taught by Brian Keefer who is a senior educator for Transfinder Corporation.  The curriculum includes a combination of educator-led lessons with a hands-on lab where participants’ complete real transportation operations tasks using actual Transfinder system software.

To meet the high demand for this course, this year, we doubled the class capacity.  Pre-registration is required.  Computers will be provided.  Wireless internet and free parking will be available.  Attendees are responsible for hotel reservations and meals.  Breakfast is included for participants who stay overnight at the Senator Inn.  Continuing education units will be available upon request.  The Maine Department of Education is sponsoring this course and there is no cost for Maine Public school Transfinder users.

Date:  October 2-4, 2018

Time:  8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Location:  Senator Inn, 284 Western Avenue, Augusta, Maine

Registration:  Pre-registration is required; the class fills quickly

Register Now – To register for the workshop, call 888-427-2403 ext. 8206 and speak with Angela Vitti, Maine Transfinder Account Executive, or send an email to avitti@transfinder.com .

If you have questions about school transportation, please contact Pat Hinckley, Transportation and Facilities Administrator at pat.hinckley@maine.gov or 204-624-6886.

School Safety and Security Bulletin: If You See Something, Say Something

Throughout the 2018- 2019 school year, the Maine Department of Education, State Fire Marshal’s Office, Department of Health and Human Services, Maine State Police, Maine Sheriffs Association, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency will provide tips and resource information to Maine schools to help provide some guidance for identifying signs and preventing school violence.

School Safety and Security Bulletin  – September 2018

Further questions and inquiries can be send to Pat Hinkley, Maine DOE Transportation and Facilities Administrator at pat.hinckley@maine.gov.

School Bus Refurbishment Update

Maine Military Authority (MMA) has completed its work for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority contract. As part of the process of winding down operations, MMA will no longer be able to contract for school bus refurbishment and has reached out to school districts to inform them of the changes in their operations.

For school bus refurbishment contracts that have been completed, the Maine Department of Education will make subsidy payments.

Further guidance will be available to districts as soon as possible.

The Maine DOE thanks the field for their patience as we work through this change.  Our mutual goal is to ensure safe transportation operations for Maine students. We will collaborate at all levels to achieve this critical goal.

Districts that were considering refurbishment services may be eligible for the Maine school bus purchase program.  An overview of the program is available on the Department website (PDF).

If you have questions about the school bus purchase program or refurbishment, please contact Pat Hinckley, Transportation and Facilities Administrator, at pat.hinckley@maine.gov or 207-624-6886.

 

Integrated Pest Management Requirements

Encounters with rodents, hornets, bats, poisonous plants and other pests can threaten the health and safety of students, staff and visitors on school properties. However, pesticides can also pose a risk and the use of these chemicals in Maine is strictly regulated. All public and private schools serving any grades kindergarten through 12 are required under state law to adopt and implement an integrated pest management (IPM) policy to reduce potential risks of exposure to pests and pesticides.

Specific requirements include:

Appointment of IPM Coordinator
Appoint a staff member to serve as and annually report their name and contact information (e-mail address and phone number) by September 1st via the Department of Education NEO system. If unable to use NEO, report via email to pesticides@maine.gov or by calling 207-287-2731. This information is required to provide necessary educational information and training and ensure compliance with regulations.

Training
The IPM Coordinator must complete two trainings: 1) Initial Training Module must be completed within one month of appointment (available online at www.maine.gov/schoolipm  click on ‘Trainings and Events’) and 2) Comprehensive IPM Training Training must be completed within one year of appointment (free workshop offered in numerous locations throughout the year. See schedule at www.maine.gov/schoolipm). In addition, the IPM Coordinator must earn 1-hr of Continuing Education credit per year.

Notification, Signage and Authorization
A notice describing your school’s IPM program must be included in the school policy manual or student and staff handbooks.  Specific information is required.  A sample notice is available at www.maine.gov/schoolipm.  This information must be kept up to date, but an annual notice to parents and staff is no longer required. A notice about the schools’ IPM Policy must be published in your policy manuals, such as the student and staff handbooks. Before any pesticide application on school properties (including non-school properties used primarily for official school functions) the IPM Coordinator must authorize it. Parents and staff must be notified five days in advance and signs must be posted two days in advance. Some types of applications are exempted. More information and sample notices are available at maine.gov/schoolipm or by contacting the Maine Board of Pesticides Control at pesticides@maine.gov or 207-287-2731.

Licensing
A commercial Pesticide Applicators License is required for all pesticide applications except for the control of stinging insects and for routine use of disinfectants.

Record-Keeping
A Pest Management Activity Log must be kept current and on file for at least two years. Specific records about IPM steps taken and pesticide use must be kept.  Sample logbook pages are available at maine.gov/schoolipm.

The School IPM Program, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, is available to help with pest problem-solving advice, training resources and more (www.maine.gov/schoolipm, e-mail: kathy.murray@maine.gov, phone: 207-287-7616).  For more information contact the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (pesticides@maine.gov or 207-287-2731) or Pat Hinckley at the Department of Education (pat.hinckley@maine.gov, 207-624-6886 ).