UniteGPS – Minot Public School District in North Dakota recently announced plans to launch a CDL high school program after receiving a $6.7 million grant from the North Dakota State Board for Career and Technical Education.
Funds will go towards opening the Minot Area Skills Center for high school students to earn CDL certification. To accomplish this, the school district plans to refurbish the former Voya Building into a learning center.
“We’ll hit the ground running,” said Minot Public School District Superintendent Mark Vollmer.
In the planning phases still, construction will reportedly begin this summer and wrap up in fall 2024, according to Minot Daily News.
Leaders expect this new initiative to expand access to career and technical education programs across North Dakota, especially during an ongoing shortage of school bus and truck drivers.
Built into this grant were funds from the American Recovery Plan Act as well as the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. Sources say there was also dollar-for-dollar matching.
Bus driver shortage in Minot, North Dakota
This past August, local news sources in Minot reported that the school district just barely had enough bus drivers to cover routes for up to 500 students. Even though there aren’t any district-wide routes in Minot, there are still 25 rural and special need routes, not to mention two high schools with plenty of extracurricular events picking up after COVID-19 cancellations.
For right now, the Minot Public School District has enough drivers to cover routes, but they are spread thin when it comes to extracurricular events. Certain issues also still persist in terms of attracting new applicants.
“The big issues when you read the literature that’s out there are hours, benefits, and pay,” said Barry Brooks, Director of Transportation for the school district. “That seems to be the three things that districts across the country are dealing with.”
The reality of the situation, however, is that school districts anticipate new challenges due to the upcoming federal regulations for CDL training. Hopefully, more CDL high school programs across the country will alleviate the scarcity of eligible drivers that could very well intensify after the Feb. 7 legislation comes into effect.