SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A new state rule change gives school bus drivers more flexibility in the process of keeping their permit active.
The amendment lets bus drivers take the annual refresher course requirement up to 60 days before their annual refresher expiration date without changing that date.
Illinois state pupil transportation director Cinda Meneghetti told SBF that the rule change has been sought after for the past two decades. The new flexibility is especially timely now with the state’s budget cutbacks.
“With less money in our budgets, fewer [refresher] classes are being offered, and that is a huge problem for the school bus drivers, the school districts and the contracting bus companies,” Meneghetti said.
In the past, some drivers’ refresher expiration dates could be pushed earlier each year because of class availability. This has been an issue particularly in the more rural areas of the state.
Now, drivers’ refresher dates will only change if they take the refresher course 61 or more days before their current date or one or more days after it.
That flexibility is important for staying in compliance, Meneghetti said.
“If they let the refresher course expire and the driver has a horrific accident, all training records would be pulled,” she explained. “If they were one day or more past the annual refresher course requirement date, they not only would have the liability issue, but also the non-compliance issue.”