Proposals for South Dakota EPSCoR funds are now being accepted. Focus: Developing or enhancing opportunities in specific career clusters.
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South Dakota 2011 Teacher of the Year Susan Turnipseed attended National Teacher of the Year events in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. Pictured above: Susan (left) with Dr. Jill Biden, an educator and wife of Vice President Joe Biden. Click here to check out Susan’s blog.

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Changes to bus driver training on horizon

HB 1208, which was passed during the 2011 legislative session, mandates training for school bus drivers once every five years, rather than the annual training currently required. It also effectively removes the Department of Education from the training process, although districts will still need to report to us that the appropriate training has been completed.

The following are clarifications regarding this new process:

• Beginning with school year 2011-12, the district will record the date of a driver’s training in the Personnel Record Form (or PRF). Lists of drivers’ names will not be sent in to the department as was previously the practice. A trainer will simply notify the district (employer) that an individual has completed the training, and the district can enter the training date into the PRF at the appropriate time.

• Any training that was completed for school year 2010-11 (timeframe: Summer 2010 through the end of Spring Semester 2011) can serve as a driver’s baseline training for the first five-year cycle. Example: If Joe Smith participated in training on July 22, 2010, his deadline to complete another round of training is July 22, 2015.

• The five-year training cycle is mandated by law; however, a district may have a policy that requires training more often.

• The department has had some questions as to what constitutes “appropriate training” as outlined in the new law. The text of HB 1208 reads: “The training shall include classroom instruction in first aid, bus safety, and the management of passengers, and also behind-the-wheel training to enable the safe and efficient operation of the bus.” We take that to mean training must include all of these elements; however, we recommend that you ask your legal counsel for interpretation.

HB 1208 takes effect July 1, 2011. Questions should be directed to Carol Uecker at the Department of Education, (605) 773-4771.