TEEX gets behind the wheel to help solve bus driver shortage

8/1/2002 12:00 AM

Like 90 percent of the nation’s school districts, Corpus Christi Independent School District has been plagued by a shortage of qualified school bus drivers.

The TEEX Pupil and Public Transportation Training Program has come up with a turnkey solution. TEEX got behind the wheel and designed a workforce development model program for training new bus drivers. Since November 2001, TEEX has trained 20 people who are now successfully employed as school bus drivers in Corpus Christi and the surrounding area.

The 144-hour program was offered through the Coastal Bend Workforce Development Board to people eligible for training through the Texas Workforce Commission.

“Everyone wins in this program,” says project manager Scott Hurst. “The students learn a marketable skill that is in demand, the school districts gain highly trained employees and the Workforce Commission gives its clients valuable training that will move them out of the system into gainful employment.

“It’s a good model and we are getting requests for it,” he added. “This type of program has potential, and I believe it is a benefit to everyone involved.”

Bus driver trainees first receive a Commercial Driver’s License preparation course and take the CDL test. Students then complete the Texas School Bus Driver 20-hour certification training program. But the course goes well beyond the minimum certification requirements, Hurst said. Students learn precision driving techniques for backing, turning and parking, and gain a sufficient number of behind-the-wheel operator hours to ensure proficiency.

“The 144-hour course provided by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service is geared directly towards our needs and places strict emphasis on the safety of transporting school children,” said Administrative Officer for Transportation Bill Rosenauer with the Corpus Christi Independent School District. “It is our opinion that the individuals completing this demanding course are the best trained bus drivers in our workforce.”

The TEEX Pupil and Public Transportation Training Program, which is part of the Engineering, Utilities and Public Works Training Institute, has worked to improve school bus driver safety training since 1995. It has trained 820 bus driver trainers for over 240 Texas school districts.

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