On Thursday, July 13th, the Board of Public Education (http://bpe.mt.gov/Home/Meeting-Schedule-and-Agendas) adopted new bus standards which go into effect on August 5, 2017. In addition to the other regulations, the one that is most time-sensitive is the one regarding mandatory crossing control arms for all buses purchased after January 1, 2010. We recognize that this may be difficult for districts to comply with by the August 5 deadline and can offer one possible solution for you for the first semester. If you have any buses that do not have the crossing control arms and you get these buses inspected before the August 5th deadline, they WILL be deemed compliant for the first semester, which will give you additional time before having to have them inspected for the second semester.
We are going to reach out to the Montana Highway Patrol so that they understand the time-crunch that this puts on some districts and are respectfully asking that their Troopers prioritize any buses that need to get inspected prior to August 5 to meet this requirement. Please also share this same information with your local Troopers who may inspect your buses so that they also understand the need to get certain buses inspected prior to August 5. If your buses already have crossing control arms or were purchased before January 1, 2010, then your buses either already meet the requirement or are grandfathered in.
Please realize that this is NOT an OPI requirement as it is a rule that was passed by the Board of Public Education that we are obligated to enforce. We shared concerns from the field about the challenging time-crunch that this put districts under for the beginning of this school year but they were unwilling to grant any extension.
Until August 5th, please use the existing inspection forms. After August 5th, we intend to have the new inspection forms available that will include this requirement that buses purchased after January 1, 2010 have the crossing control arm. So again, any inspections conducted prior to the August 5th rules revision WILL be compliant.
If you have any further questions about this rule or the implementation of it, please feel free to contact me at your convenience.
Hopefully preparation for the new school year is going well for everyone.
This notice is to ensure all school staff are aware of the new Bus Standards for 2017. The standards have gone through the process of a workgroup revision, Board of Public Education approval, and the Administrative Rules of Montana hearings process. All review processes approved the standards and the new standards are in effect as of August 5th. It is imperative each school transportation director understand the changes in standards and how they may affect your school.
A couple of highlights of the changes include:
- Training hours for school bus drivers increased from 10 hours to 15 hours
- Crossing control arms were previously optional and are now mandatory for school buses purchased after January 1, 2010
- Advertising on buses are prohibited (this was not intended to be applied to recruiting school bus drivers)
- Buses over 40 feet must have a rear stop arm (this was previously optional)
- Cameras are allowed optionally on stop arms
- Each special equipped school bus that is set up to accommodate wheelchairs or other assistive devices should be equipped with an emergency evacuation device.
- Clarifications camera and video monitoring use
- Requirements for McKinney-Vento Act and ESSA relating to transportation of pupils
- Clean up language to the standards and other adjustments as suggested by the federal standards
The standards are available on the OPI web page at http://opi.mt.gov/pdf/PupilTransport/17BusStandards_Proposed.pdf.