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It’s just a bill

Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021


A new house bill (HB4230) would allegedly help solve the bus driver shortage in Illinois.

Currently, the law says anyone applying for a bus driver’s permit must have a driver’s license uninterrupted for three years prior.

Bill sponsor Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, said this bill changes that and allows for people who lost their licenses for circumstances unrelated to driving can still get their bus drivers permit.

“You know, with the bus driver shortage I think we need to do everything that we can to keep safe and friendly drivers in our school busses,” Rep. Davidsmeyer said.

I reached out to the secretary of state’s office to ask what sort of non-driving offenses could result in the loss of a license. Some of the examples I was given included failure to pay child support and fraud involving a driver’s license (like being caught with a fake ID or applying for a driver’s license in someone else’s name). There are also medical reasons, like suffering seizures, but licenses can be restored by obtaining a physician’s consent.

* No doubt this is needed. But maybe we as a state could help schools get to the recommended ratio of 1 counselor for every 250 students before moving to 1 for 150

A newly filed House bill hopes to get more counselors into Illinois’ schools.

Right now, state law says that districts may employ enough counselors to meet the recommended ratio of 1 counselor for every 250 students.

The new bill would mandate a counselor for every 150 students, and counselors would be required to meet with their students every month.

In the 2019-2020 school year, the statewide ratio was 1 counselor for every 592 students, according to the Illinois School Counselor Association.

This costs money, and the Illinois School Counselor Association’s executive director made that clear in his response to WICS

The ASCA national model recommends a 250:1 school counselor to student ratio. In 2019-2020, the school counselor to student ratio in Illinois was 592:1. We hope to engage Rep. Cyril Nichols, sponsor of HB 4208 to advocate for an increase in school counselors with the funding to support such a mandate.

Emphasis added.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Now I'm down in it. - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 9:47 am:

    In most areas, bus drivers make very little money and have little to no access to benefits. Plus they get the privilege of dealing with disruptive kids and being the scapegoat if something happens on their route. Sounds like a raw deal to me. Change that and there will suddenly not be a “shortage”.

  2. - Nick - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 9:47 am:

    Suspending a license for failure to pay child support seems pretty counter-intuitive, honestly.

  3. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 9:48 am:

    Agree with the first comment. Maybe pay them better and make it a job where they don’t sit unpaid for part of the day and more people would want to do it.

  4. - Now I'm down in it. - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 9:58 am:

    Nick, tell that to the single parents dealing with deadbeat exes who will seemingly do anything possible to avoid supporting their kids. It’s terrible, but penalties like this do help.

  5. - Out Here In The Middle - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 10:00 am:

    Totally agree with the pay comments. I recently drove past a rural McDonald’s with signs outside offering $12/hour starting pay. Wonder what that school district is paying it’s bus drivers?

  6. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 10:00 am:

    in my District, the bus service early on, Sept-Oct was very prone to delays - getting better now . This is a national problem, good on Rep Davidsmeyer for looking for some relief. As for the pay if you have a CDL you are looking at $2,500 bonus and $20-$22/hr. Not terrible …

    “According to a national survey by the National Association for Pupil Transportation and two other school transportation organizations, half of the almost 1,500 school transportation coordinators surveyed described their driver shortage as “severe” or “desperate.” About 78% said the shortage is getting “much worse” or “a little worse” “

  7. - Clueless - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 10:02 am:

    Go ahead mandate more counselors, you’ll never find them. University education programs are seeing a 45% decrease in enrollment. It’s pretty easy “coaching from the bleachers”.

  8. - Homebody - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 10:05 am:

    You get what you pay for. The story is the same in every story about education, DCFS, etc. Whether it is a teacher, a social worker, a bus driver, a janitor.

    Maybe stop spending money on administrators and task forces that just generate reports and recommendations that never go anywhere, and get back to making sure your front line staff is adequately compensated so you can ensure you’re hiring people who actually want to be there, and hiring in sufficient numbers.

  9. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 10:12 am:

    The jump from a junior in high school to choosing the best and smartest way to continue an education path, or a trade path, even considering enlisting in the Armed Forces, that ratio to get that quality counseling is terribly weak.

    Can students find their way? Absolutely.

    Could they use actual guidance to make those best choices? Absolutely too.

    Now, to the other, and arguably more important aspect of counseling in the four years, social and mental guidance, you can’t tell me if a student is one of, say, 500 or so, how can the counselor and the student find a needed partnership in those trying 4 years?

    It’s a tough job, thankless often, frustrating often too, but the need is there, and the options are sparse for students.

    Illinois needs to do better.

  10. - A - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 10:21 am:

    Maybe, but not sure loosening the requirements to drive a school bus will help. It’s the nature of the job that makes it unappealing. I know a retiree who was officially reprimanded–in the file!– as a bus driver for insisting that one of his passengers pull his mask up The verbal abuse of the driver by the student who refused was never taken into account however. That’ll make someone say—not worth it!

  11. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 10:33 am:

    ==I recently drove past a rural McDonald’s with signs outside offering $12/hour starting pay==

    I’ve seen the McDonald’s in Chatham advertise $14 an hour on their outdoor sign in recent weeks. And BTW at least for now that McD’s has suspended indoor dining yet again (although the sign says “health reasons,” it may not only be the Omicron threat but also problems finding help).

  12. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 10:33 am:


    Yes, but how many hours are they actually being paid for a day? It’s not the whole school day.

  13. - snowman1961 - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 10:47 am:

    It looks like national avg ratio is 430 to 1 and according to the ASCA, only 24% of schools have a ratio below 350 to 1. This also includes all schools, elementary to HS.
    Schools are hurting for employees from teachers to recess people but they do not have the funds to pay more without increasing the already high property taxes. We need to do better to fund schools so they can pay more to hire more front line people as well as teachers.

  14. - Nearly Normal - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 11:10 am:

    This fall saw some rural districts in Central Illinois lose bus drivers because they would not get vaccinated. Some even balked at getting tested! Considering that the bulk of the students bussed are elementary students that is shameful.

    There are not enough school counselors graduating from the universities to take those required positions. Only 15 Illinois universities have graduate programs with 9 in the Chicago metro area. Illinois State dropped their program in the 1980’s due to declining enrollment.

    When I Googled the topic a lot of ads popped up for online courses from out of state universities. Those need to be carefully examined to make sure their courses align with those required for licensure in Illinois.

    Counselors need more support in the social and emotional counseling areas. No doubt due to COVID issues, students are more stressed, angry and anti-social than before COVID. I hear this from my friends who are still teaching or have grandkids.

  15. - low level - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 11:23 am:

    == Nick - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 9:47 am:

    Suspending a license for failure to pay child support seems pretty counter-intuitive, honestly.==

    Spot on. How are they going to pay child support if they dont have a job?

  16. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 11:44 am:

    ===Spot on. How are they going to pay child support if they dont have a job?===

    By the time the process gets far enough along to suspend a driver’s license, a dead beat dad has usually had several chances to make a good faith effort to pay child support. Willful deadbeats end up with a suspended DL. If they had a job, their wages would be garnished in most cases anyway.

    Do you know who pays child support when the father doesn’t? Everybody else.

  17. - Pundent - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 11:44 am:

    =It’s not the whole school day.=

    And when the kids are off there’s little if any work. That’s holidays, breaks, and summer.

  18. - Interim Retiree - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 11:52 am:

    Finding bus drivers IS difficult, especially when you are only offering 3 hours of work per day. If you can have them also be playground supervisors or work in cafeteria, or classroom paras that helps. Of course then they get benefits, which causes taxpayers to complain about rising costs/increased taxes.

    School Social Workers can also take some burdens off counselors.
    More administrators required today as opposed to 20-30 years ago because many more mandates from state & federal governments.

  19. - Rudy’s teeth - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 11:57 am:

    The Perils of School Field Trips
    Imagine 270 fourteen year old students on multiple yellow school buses. We cautioned students to be respectful, no yelling, singing, or music. Our reason—some of the drivers were elderly and navigating expressway traffic to Chicago was challenging.

    Since we took six trips a year, this process was fingers crossed we made it safely to the destination and back experience. We had no parent chaperones— only teachers and students.

  20. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 12:24 pm:

    =Change that and there will suddenly not be a “shortage”.=

    First, ho many here are familiar with the state’s history regarding transportation funding? My guess is not many if any.

    Illinois requires schools to offer transportation,
    and funds this through Categorical Funding, commonly called an MCAT. You then have to complete a request that includes completing the funding formula. Through that process you get a number that represents you “entitlement”. I cannot remember when schools last received their full entitlement from the state. Even with the move to EBF model Transportation is still not fully funded. During the Quinn/Rauner proration years the entitlements were funded at 25%. These days it is closer to 80% and the rest has to be made up with local dollars.

    The reason for the under funding? Well don’t ask the ISBE, they just default to the ILGA.

    I think this is the easiest are to underfund because the impact is not felt in chicago (who gets a cut of the funding pool off of the top) or suburbia where the geographic size of some districts is 1 square mile. Rural districts, some as large as 400 square miles, are easy to cut because they are represented by republicans and have fewer voters. Our cost per square mile is higher because we cover so much ground and have a lower student density. We struggle with funding to begin with, and then we try to run each fund in balanced manner.

    Rural school struggle to find people and then top try and compete with the market today is simply a losing cause. One area rural district offered $25 per hour plus a sign on bonus and received exactly zero applications. We cannot afford to pay for 8 hours and offer benefits unless we have other work for these folks, and if you have a CDL yoou can very easily clear $60-$70k per year without a load of screaming children.

    This legislation will not help at all, and the requirement for counselors is an absolute joke. e have been trying to get extra social-emotional support for our students and have contracted with two outside sources. And we struggle to get them to show up.

    The ILGA is incapable of helping us because they lack the understanding and the will to do what is right. They would prefer to posture on nonsense issues like CRT and student discipline.

  21. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 12:49 pm:

    -Finding bus drivers IS difficult, especially when you are only offering 3 hours of work per day.-

    Good luck finding something else to fill the gap when the school needs you most days just 6:30-8:30 and 2:30-4:30 and tells you to “go fish” filling the rest of that time, other than the occasional field trip.

  22. - Enemy of the State - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 4:48 pm:

    How many commercial drivers have left the field because they no longer can pass the drug test? Give up my daily joint just to drive a bus? Yeah, sure.

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