Preservice School Bus

The Preservice School Bus Driver Training Program became operational June 1, 1978. Since 1978, the program has been expanded to include preservice, the Ohio Advance School Bus Driver Classes, Inservice Programs, School Bus Driver Road-E-O events, and School Bus Rider Safety Program (designed for Kindergarten through third grade students).


The Ohio Department of Education, Pupil Transportation Section, Division of School Finance is the fiscal agent for the preservice program. A state supervisor is responsible for supervising and coordinating the statewide program. The state is divided into eight regions. A county superintendent within each region serves as the region’s fiscal agent. These eight county superintendents also function as an advisory committee to the state supervisor. Each fiscal agent employs a school bus driver instructor to train prospective and recertifying school bus drivers within that region. The Preservice Instructor for the East Region is Rob Higgenbotham.


If you would like to register for a class, contact the transportation supervisor in the district where you wish to be employed. Each student must be sponsored by a district. The supervisor will  register you for the class and help you with scheduling the training process. Prospective school bus drivers must attend all 5 days of the class; recertifying drivers must attend days 1, 4, and 5 as indicated on the schedule. All students must pass a test on Day 5 of the class to qualify toward the requirements for a school bus driver’s certificate. The School Bus Driver’s Certificate will not be issued until the district determines that all requirements are complete.

Prospective drivers must also do AT LEAST 12 hours of training with a certified OBI. The district employing the driver will arrange this training. This training will be on the bus, and will cover driving procedures and pretrip requirements. Drivers must score at least 80 on each portion of the training to qualify for a School Bus Driver’s Certificate.

OBI Training for Certification

Download “OBI Training Procedure” and “Application for OBI Certification” for details concerning training for a new OBI for a district in the East Region and paperwork that must be submitted along with a letter of recommendation. If you are in a different region in Ohio, check with the instructor in your region; their process may vary.

East Region holds several OBI training sessions for paperwork throughout the year. This session is one part of the OBI certification process. Districts requesting a new OBI should follow the procedure outlined to schedule their candidate for that session. Please note that the state recommends only ONE OBI for each 20 drivers.

After the paperwork session, the driver will be assigned a mentor. This mentor will be an experienced OBI who has successfully trained and/or evaluated many school bus drivers. The mentor will work with the prospective OBI to be sure they are performing the pretrip correctly and that their driving skills are well-tuned. When the mentor feels the candidate is ready, he/she will contact the Preservice office, and the candidate must schedule a training session with Rob. That session will be held at the CDL site in Gnadenhutten.

Once that training session has been completed, the prospective driver will schedule an EVALUATION with Rob to be tested to verify that he/she can successfully pass both the pretrip and the driving evaluation. Once both the pretrip and driving evaluation have been completed with a score of 80 or above, the new OBI will receive a certificate signifying that they are qualified to train/evaluate any school bus driver in the state of Ohio.

All newly certified OBIs will be required to submit paperwork for at least the first 3 drivers they train or evaluate. This paperwork will be reviewed by the preservice staff and the OBI will be contacted to review the paperwork and discuss if there are any items that need to be corrected. This is part of the training process to be sure that all paperwork is being filled out correctly and to state standards. If there are still problems with paperwork submitted, more than 3 submissions may be required.

OBI Recertification

OBIs must recertify by doing the pretrip and driving evaluation with the Preservice Instructor. East Region schedules these recertification evaluations throughout the year with the exception of July, and the winter months December, January, and February. Recertifying OBIs should schedule their evaluation with this office within one year of the date their certificate will expire. Download “OBI Recertification Procedure” below for details.

OBI Annual Meeting Required

OBIs must attend an annual meeting to retain OBI certification. Meetings will be scheduled in the spring each year, and may or may not be local to the OBI. Topics of concern in the region will be discussed, and notice will be made to all OBIs well in advance of the meeting(s). While all OBIs are required to attend, supervisors and/or other district persons with an interest in school bus professionals and how they do their jobs are always welcome, too.

Innovations in our districts

Wooster City Schools bus #13 is sporting a new lighting system. For details, click here.

The school district has partnered with Weldon, a division of Akron Brass, for this test project. Although it has only been on the road for a few weeks with the new lights, the number of drivers running the red lights on bus #13 has already been greatly reduced.