School Bus Purchase Program Applications Open Nov. 1st to 25th

The Maine Department of Education is accepting applications to receive subsidy for new school buses purchased through the School Bus Purchase Program.  The application period is November 1 through November 25, 2020.

The Department will be able to approve about $9 million in school bus allocations that combines new bus requests and the prior year bus term commitment.  Round one applications will be accepted for school buses proposed to be purchased during fiscal year 2021-2022.  This program provides subsidy to school administrative units (SAUs) in order to offset partial costs of new school buses that are used to transport students to and from home and school and school events.  This program is a resource to help SAUs purchase new school buses, retire end of life school buses, and respond to emergency and special bus needs.  Eligible vehicles must meet Code of Maine Regulations Chapter 85 minimum qualifications, with the exception of Section 3.1.

The School Bus Purchase Program instructions and information are available on the Maine DOE’s NEO dashboard. To fill out an application, you must log in to NEO.  For more information or technical assistance, please contact Pat Hinckley at 207-624-6886 or email .

Students, Parents, and Schools Celebrate School Bus Driver Appreciation Week Oct. 19-23

Nationally, while school buses are the gold standard of safety and considered the Titans of Transportation, school bus drivers are the heroes of safety that go above and beyond the call of duty as they deliver the most precious cargo – our students.

Locally, parents, students, teachers, and superintendents celebrate National School Bus Driver Appreciation Week by showing appreciation for school bus drivers that build local community, make special deliveries, arrive in early hours, help students in need, focus on safety, and more.  School staff and parents make special cards, deliver special snacks, talk with drivers about how much their commitment to student safety means to families, schools, and the community, and learn 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. This is a time for celebrating school bus drivers.

Historically, Maine schools celebrate 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.

We welcome you to share stories about your Maine school bus driver heroes of safety on the Maine DOE social media on Facebook @MaineDepartmentofEducation1 and/or Twitter @mdoenews.  Here are some historic examples of Maine school bus driver heroes of safety:

School bus drivers receive extensive driver and safety training to provide the essential service of school transportation. 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.

For information about school transportation policy contact Transportation and Facilities Administrator Pat Hinckley at .

For information about how to become a school bus driver contact the Maine Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT)

Maine Schools Join Others Around the Nation to Recognize 2020 National School Bus Safety Week October 19-23 

2020 National School Bus Safety Week theme: Red Lights Mean Stop!  The theme is derived from the Poster Contest the year before. The 2019 winning poster, depicted above, was drawn by Bryan Torres-Tavarez, a 12th Grader at Stars Academy in Paterson, NJ. 

National School Bus Safety Week, scheduled October 19-23 this year, is a public education program that acknowledges the value of school bus safety.  It is also a great time to THANK our bus drivers for the important work that they do.  

Transportation is a great equalizer in education, providing students from all economic backgrounds with the opportunity to learn and succeed. NHTSA believes school buses should be as safe as possible. That’s why NHTSA safety standards for school buses are above and beyond those for regular buses.  School buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road.  

School buses are different by design.  They are designed and engineered so that they’re highly visible and include safety features such as flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors and stop-sign arms. They also include protective seating, high crush standards, and rollover protection features. 

In Maine, each school bus must be inspected biannually by an official inspection station designated by the Chief of the State Police as a school bus inspection station.  In addition, a school bus inspection must be conducted by the State Police at least annually.  That is three a year. 

School buses are protected by law.  Laws protect students who are getting off and on a school bus by making it illegal for drivers to pass a school bus while dropping off or picking up passengers, regardless of the direction of approach.   

In Maine, school bus safety laws support good driving behavior. These laws include: 

  • Passing a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing is a criminal violation punishable by a $250 minimum fine for the first offense and a mandatory 30-day license suspension for the second offense occurring within three years of the first offense. 
  • A vehicle may not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or until signaled by the bus operator that it is okay to proceed. 
  • A school bus operator who observes someone illegally passing a stopped school bus can report violations to a law enforcement officer.  
  • School buses are required to stop at railroad crossings. 
  • Unless otherwise posted, the school zone speed limit is 15 miles per hour during school opening or closing hours, as well as recess. 

More information about National School Bus Safety Week can be found here: 

For information about school transportation policy contact Transportation and Facilities Administrator Pat Hinckley at 

The National School Bus Safety Week public education program is sponsored by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), National School Transportation Association (NSTA), National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), Pupil Transportation Safety Institute (PTSI) and school bus manufacturers and suppliers. 


Maine Students Encouraged to Participate in 2020 School Bus Safety Poster Contest

Pictured: 2019 National Association for Pupil Transportation Poster Contest Overall Winner, Bryan Torres-Tavarez, Stars Academy, Paterson, NJ. Source: NAPT Facebook Page.

The national 2020 School Bus Safety Poster Contest is underway and Maine is encouraging students to participate again this year.  The theme is Be Safe – Know the Danger Zone! Please share the contest information below with transportation staff and educators state-wide that are interested in helping students participate in this exciting opportunity to show off their visual arts skills and their knowledge of school bus safety!

National School Bus Safety Poster Contest Rules Please note: It is very important that the posters meet the established rules in regards to size, theme, materials, and placement of student information to be considered at the national level. The last page of the rules provides for a student information sheet to be attached to the back of each poster.

Collect posters throughout the school year and send them to Terry Balduff at the contact information below and/or bring them to the Maine Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT) Safety Conference in July.

Terry Balduff
(207) 676-2856
C/O MSAD No. 60
150 Noble Way
North Berwick, Maine 03906

Posters will be displayed at the MAPT Safety Conference in July and voted on by those in attendance at the conference. The winners from each category will be submitted to the NAPT for the National Competition representing Maine in October 2020.

Categories that artists may be entered into (Maine will host all categories except for CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) drawings.

  • Division #1- Grades K-2
  • Division #2- Grades 3-5
  • Division #3- Grades 6-8
  • Division #4- Special Education (Grades K-12)

2020 AWARDS: (State Level)

  • First Place Winners: $75.00 each plus Trophy and Certificate of Appreciation
  • Second Place Winners: $50.00 each plus Trophy and Certificate of Appreciation
  • Third Place Winners: $25.00 each plus Trophy and Certificate of Appreciation

Savings Bonds in lieu of cash may be awarded. 

Regulatory Alert Update:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Official Delays Entry Level Driver Training (ELD) Rule

Yesterday, February 4, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) received approval to announce a two-year delay in the compliance date for all aspects of its 2016 final rule, requiring entry level driver training (ELDT) for all new commercial drivers.  Click here for a copy of the Interim Final Rule that is expected to be posted soon.

The Interim Final Rule announces that, “FMCSA extends the compliance date for the 2016 final rule, “Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level commercial Motor Vehicle Operators” (81 FR 88732, December 8, 2016), from February 7, 2020, to February 7, 2022. The two-year extension applies to all requirements established by the ELDT final rule…”

For further information, please contact Maine Department of Education’s Transportation and Facilities Administrator Pat Hinckley at or (207) 624-6886.