UniteGPS – Lamar State College-Orange (LSCO) in Texas expanded its comprehensive CDL academy with new inventory arriving on campus on Friday, Jan. 28. This includes a 77-passenger yellow school bus, an 18-wheeler rig, and even a dump truck, to better instruct students pursuing this certification.

LSCO emblem

Seeing how new CDL training requirements are coming into effect next week, local community partners originally contacted college officials three years ago. The goal: to convince them to launch a driving program to proactively address the hiring shortages.

Following suit, LSCO worked with the community to better address local hiring needs and promote bus or truck driving as lucrative career paths for young people. This way, not only do students essentially have a guaranteed job after graduation, but local industry players then have qualified workers to fill positions.

“Someone can come here, they can learn a skill, a craft, or a trade-in a short period of time and be able to make a livable wage and go right to work, and that’s what makes Lamar State College-Orange so special,” said LSCO President Dr. Tom Johnson.

“Whatever our community needs we deliver.”

Lamar State College-Orange CDL school

Funds for the new vehicles and staff come from a $781,000 grant split between LSCO, Lamar State College-Port Arthur, and Lamar Institute of Technology. With its $295,000 allotment, not only did LSCO purchase the vehicles but also hired two more instructors.

Because of this support, CDL courses at LSCO now offer specific training between Class A and Class B licenses. While Class A is for commercial truck drivers, dump truck and school bus drivers focus on Class B.

In addition to the 77-passenger school bus were a 2013 Cascadia truck with a sleeper cab and accompanying full-length trailer, as well as a 2001 Sterling dump truck. Before the new equipment, the CDL school only had a 2004 Volvo truck with a 28-foot box trailer, not to mention only one student and one instructor.

For prospective school bus drivers, LSCO generally prepares six Class B students at a time, paying $2,500 for 160 hours of instruction, lasting between four to six weeks. Once a person graduates, another enrolls, with most students already familiar with driving buses and working while attending. 

According to reports, LSCO created a 9 AM to 1 PM schedule Monday through Friday to accommodate students.