JudyL posted a comment in one of my blogs posing several questions:
“On the subject of Field Trips, what qualifies a driver to do trips in your District? Are all NEW employee's allowed to do trips or do you have a time set for them to become more experienced and familiar with your highways, night driving and so forth?”
In my particular district, once a bus driver has a license to drive a bus, they are qualified to haul children. We complete at least 40 hours of training, with at least 28 hours in the classroom and 12 total hours of driving time. This driving time is split into two 6-hour sections. We have to drive 6 hours without children, which gets us acclimated to driving a very large vehicle. Then we drive 6 hours with children on the bus, which tests how we handle more stress. We are also required to have CDL class B licenses with Passenger and School Bus endorsements. We also have to pass the Air Brakes test at the DMV as well before we can even get behind the wheel.
No amount of training can fully prepare you for all the conditions you will experience as a bus driver. On the subject of field trips, in my district, we have field trip sign-ups once a year. Any new drivers can sign up for the field trip list as long as they have all their qualifications in place and they are considered full time employees. We usually have a small group of “Floaters” who are considered full time employees and the rest of the newcomers are considered Substitutes. The difference between the groups is that a Floater gets a salary and health insurance benefits, where as a Substitute comes in only as needed and gets paid only if they work. My district has approximately 5-7 full time Floater positions in addition to full time Driver positions. A Floater is a permanent full time substitute.
The sign up for field trips usually occurs around mid March and have 3 different options for drivers to choose. We have 3 types of field trips: Mid-Day, After School/Overnight, and Summer. I sign up for all three. Some of the more experienced drivers in my district don’t like that just anyone who is qualified can sign up for field trips. They feel a waiting period should be in place. In my case, I got my license in October and was able to sign up the following March for field trips. I had about 4 months of driving experience under my belt before I signed up for field trips.
This only details what my district does about field trips and doesn’t reflect on other districts in my state.
The Bus Driver