New licensing regulations for school bus drivers are set to come into effect next week, and Golden Hills School Division Superintendent (GHSD) Bevan Daverne is optimistic this could help address the school bus driver shortage felt not just by the GHSD, but by the entire province and perhaps even the entire country.
"We're happy about the change and looking forward to the details to see the impact that it has," Daverne said.
School bus drivers will no longer be required to undergo the MELT (Mandatory Entry-Level Training) program as of April 23, which Daverne believes could positively impact GHSD's bus drivers. While he couldn't make any definitive statements as the full details of what this change will look like have not been released yet, Daverne noted MELTs never really applied to school bus drivers to begin with, as he believes this was legislation brought in mainly for the trucking industry.
"Our training for bus drivers, we actually do more training than MELT prescribes anyway. Plus we have ongoing supervision and evaluation for drivers on their routes, so for school districts, it is a little bit of a different thing, and having the MELT legislation, those requirements removed for bussing and school divisions will work just fine for us actually."
"When MELT came in, the number of changes at that time was going to make it very challenging to attract and retain bus drivers. And at that time, many school divisions felt that it was unnecessary because we already exceeded the MELT requirements in other ways and the requirements that MELT imposed on bus drivers for school divisions."
Since the GHSD was already doing training and programs that either matched or exceeded what MELT required, Daverne isn't concerned that removing MELT will make school buses less safe. The government's regulations also still require all school bus drivers to have an "S" endorsement, which is another safety measure put in place to ensure there is no additional risk created by removing MELT requirements.
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