WHS students keep on truckin’
Waupaca High School, FVTC offer CDL training
By Robert Cloud
A new program at Waupaca High School is teaching students how to drive trucks.
They will earn a Class B commercial drivers license after completing the 18-week program.
Jake Steinbrink, the Fox Valley Technical College instructor who is leading the class, said there is a growing need for truckers.
“By 2020 it is projected there will be a 300,000 truck driver shortage,” Steinbrink said.
“The reason Fox Valley Tech and Waupaca High School are working together on this program is that there is such a need,” according to Jen Erb, the school’s career and technical education coordinator.
Erb said eight transportation companies have already tried to recruit the students in the CDL program.
“You have a job in your wallet,” Erb said, noting the starting pay for a truck driver may be as high as $35,000 to $45,000 a year.
With a Class B CDL, the students will be qualified to drive any straight truck, including flat bed trucks, municipal snow plows, concrete mixers, tankers, box vans and dump trucks.
To drive a semi tractor trailer they will need a Class A CDL.
Steinbrink said the students can earn a Class A CDL in the summer.
“After they complete the Class B program, we can offer them a waiver of five to six weeks in the Class A program,” Steinbrink said.
The 172-hour class is held from 5-9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesday and involves both classroom instruction at the high school and behind-the-wheel training at the FVTC Transportation Center in Appleton.
Steinbrink said FVTC helps the students obtain the federal documents required to be commercial drivers, as well as a commercial learners permit.
Josh Crisman is a Waupaca senior who is taking the class.
While he does not plan to become a full-time truck driver, he believes the CDL will help his future career.
“I’ll have more certification than other people when I apply for a job,” Crisman said.
Another student, Andrew Schroeder, plans to use his CDL as a secondary source of income and as a tool for future work opportunities.
“The Waupaca SChool District is working to assist kids to make an easy transition into post-secondary education or the workforce,” Erb said. “We hope that we can involve more kids and community members next year.”
Next year, the program will be open to both students and area residents.
To be in the program, students must be age 18 by March 1. They must also pass a drug test.
People may find out more about the program by calling Erb at 715-258-4131, ext. 1106.