Administrative Letter: Clarification Concerning Local School Bus Purchase and Bid

Administrative Letter: #24
Policy Code: EEAEB
To: Public School Administrators, Business Managers, Transportation Directors, and School Bus Vendors
Date: 26 March 2019
Subject: Clarification Concerning Local and State School Bus Bid and Purchase

To assist and support school districts in their diligent work to purchase school buses, the Maine Department of Education is providing clarification concerning the process for districts to bid and purchase school buses.

The information in this letter has been reviewed and confirmed by our legal team in the Office of the Attorney General.

For a school bus purchase to be eligible for State subsidy, per 20-A M.R.S. § 5401(15) and § 5402, the school administrative unit (SAU) must:

(1) purchase the bus from the bidder selected through the State of Maine Division of Procurement school bus bid Request for Quotations (RFQ) for bus Type and capacity or
(2) upon request, provide to the Department documentation that demonstrates the purchase was the result of a competitive bidding process conducted by the SAU following, 20-A M.R.S § 5402 bid procedures.

For school buses purchased by a SAU when the SAU is not seeking subsidy, the SAU must still engage in competitive bidding, as outlined above.

Vendors are welcome to register with, and submit school bus bids through, the Maine Division of Procurement’s Request for Quotations (RFQ). During an open bid, vendors may not contact the Maine Department of Education. Questions that vendors receive about Maine Department of Education transportation programs, policies, and procedures from SAUs or citizens are to be redirected to the state agency with subject authority, e.g., Maine Division of Procurement or Maine Department of Education.

SAU use of the Maine Department of Education’s School Bus Bid and Purchase System (SBBPS) is voluntary.  SAUs are encouraged to contact Pat Hinckley at 207-624-6886 or pat.hinckley@maine.gov with any questions about the SBBPS, transportation programs, or policy questions.

FY2018/2019 Tribal Clean Diesel Funding Request for Applications (RFA) Changes; Deadline is April 3

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has combined fiscal year 2018 and 2019 Clean Diesel Grant funding into one Request for Applications (RFA). An additional $2.0 million in grant funding has been added to the already open FY18 Tribal RFA for a total of $4.0 million available. Under this amended grant competition, each applicant may request up to $800,000 in federal funding, and EPA is expecting to award between 5 and 12 grants. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, April 3, 2019.

Please visit the Clean Diesel Tribal Grants Website for the RFA and Supporting Documents (www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/clean-diesel-tribal-grants)

Tribal Applicants Click Here If Interested in Learning More About the VW Mitigation Trust DERA Option.

Priority – Priority is given to projects that achieve significant reduction in diesel emissions and exposure in areas designated as having poor air quality, and in areas receiving a disproportionate quantity of air pollution from diesel fleets.

Eligibility – Tribal governments (or intertribal consortiums) and Alaskan Native Villages, which have jurisdiction over transportation or air quality, are eligible to apply for Tribal Clean Diesel grants.

Use of Funding – Eligible diesel vehicles, engines and equipment may include:

  •  School buses
  •  Class 5 – Class 8 heavy-duty highway vehicles
  •  Locomotive engines
  •  Marine engines
  •  Nonroad engines, equipment or vehicles used in construction, handling of cargo (including at ports or airports), agriculture, mining or energy production (including stationary generators and pumps).

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

National Congress on School Transportation Writing Committees Seeking Input

The National Congress on School Transportation (NCST) is accepting change requests from any interested party on the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures.

All change requests must be made on the NCST 2020 Change Request Form: The form and instructions are located on the NCST website. 

The deadline for submission of change requests is March 31, 2019.  All requests must be submitted by that date in accordance with the form instructions to allow the NCST Writing Committees time to review and properly research the proposals before the 2020 Congress.

Under the Congress’ procedures, the Writing Committee Chairs must notify all persons submitting change requests for the status of their respective requests following the committees’ deliberations and decisions.  This feedback to submitters must occur well prior to the on-site Congress.

The job of researching suggested changes to the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures is performed by the NCST Writing Committees.  Questions about the NCST 2020 Change Request Form and submittals may be addressed to Patrick McManamon at patrick.mcmanamon@vermont.gov .

For information about Maine school transportation, please contact Pat Hinckley, Transportation and Facilities Administrator, at pat.hinckley@maine.org .

School Safety and Security Bulletin: Planning for those with Access and Functional Needs

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  – February 2019

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

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/.