The Montana Office of Public Instruction has sent out new bus standards for the 2017 school year. The Board of Public Education has approved the changes and the standards have gone through the Administrative Rule of Montana hearings process.
Updated bus standards for school districts include clarified video monitoring policies for drivers as well as increased training hours.
The new standards will be in effect as of Oct. 13, and school transportation directors will be in charge of understanding and complying with the changes.
Drivers must now have at least 15 hours of training, as opposed to the 10 hours they were required to have before.
If there are not enough cameras to monitor student and driver behavior, they must be rotated among the different bus routes. If a video recording is used as evidence to support a disciplinary action, the policies clarify who must be notified. Each school district must designate, by policy, people allowed to review recordings.
School bus evacuations must be conducted at least twice per school year and must include all students, whether they ride to and from school or not.
Buses set up to accommodate wheelchairs or other assistive restraint devices must also be equipped with an emergency evacuation device that is certified and tested to withstand at least a 300-pound load when used as an emergency stretcher or drag.
The standards also now include the requirements set by the Every Student Succeeds Act, which requires certain rules be put in place to provide transportation to students who are homeless as well as those in foster care.
The full bus standards are attached to the online version of this article and can also be found at the Office of Public Instruction website under the programs tab. Click school programs, then pupil transportation.