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Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter
Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter
March 21, 2007
Introduced by Reps. Walker, Mahaffey, Herbkersman, Cotty, Hagood, Scarborough and Stavrinakis
S. Printed 3/21/07--H.
Read the first time January 9, 2007.
EXPLANATION OF IMPACT:
State Department of Education (SDE)
The state school bus transportation system is currently funded with a combination of state appropriations and local school district funds which are used to cover operating expenses including fuel and parts; employ mechanics and bus drivers; and purchase equipment including buses and service vehicles. State funding for the system includes "flow through" funds to the districts which are used primarily to supplement bus drivers' (district employees) salaries. The number of buses operating on a daily basis is estimated to be 5,000 (excluding reserve spares) while the total number of miles driven by the fleet is approximately 78,000,000 annually. There are several sections of the bill for which additional costs are anticipated for both the State and the school districts.
Based on SDE's analysis of existing ride times the department anticipates the need for an additional 102 school buses to satisfy the ninety minute ride limit. Direct operating cost to the State per bus is an estimated $10,830 annually (including parts and fuel). State "flow through" funds to the districts are an estimated $9,322 per bus while district expenses are an estimated $16,800 per bus. Therefore, direct operating expenses associated with this section are an estimated $1,104,660. A proportionate increase in "flow through" funds to the districts would equate to $951,000. The need for an additional 102 buses for the fleet could be achieved by delaying disposal of that number of vehicles. However, the vehicles would eventually have to be replaced and would add an additional depreciation cost of $489,600 million annually to the fleet based on a 15 year replacement cycle.
There are currently no State funds appropriated to SDE to provide hazardous transportation services to the districts. Those districts that request this service pay SDE for costs incurred, and continue to incur some of the cost associated with hazardous transportation including bus driver salaries and fringe benefits. Total cost for hazardous transportation is $4 million annually based on the districts' request for this service. As stated in the bill, any cost not covered by state appropriations would remain the responsibility of the respective district. Therefore, state funding for this section is at the General Assembly's discretion.
SDE estimates it transports 136,350 students in kindergarten through fifth grade on a daily basis. If one quarter of those students are unescorted and need a half mile of additional transportation services daily, the fleet's overall mileage would increase by 3,068,000 miles annually. Total cost per mile covered by state appropriations is an estimated $1.05 which includes 70 cents ($.70) per mile for direct operating expenses and thirty-five cents ($.35) per mile for depreciation (based on a 15 year replacement cycle). Therefore, direct operating costs associated with this subsection are an estimated $2.15 million. Additional depreciation costs are an estimated $1,073,800 annually. SDE estimates an adjustment of "flow through" funds based on increasingly bus driver's compensation at $1.3 million. Additional district expenses are an estimated $1.95 million including their portion of drivers' salaries and fringe benefits.
There are currently 5,600 school buses in the State Department of Education's (SDE) fleet with about 600 of those being spare buses (used when a regular route bus needs repair or inspection). SDE has $10,676,931 in recurring bus purchase appropriations. Replacing one-fifteenth of the fleet each year would require the purchase of 373 buses annually. SDE anticipates the average cost per bus could increase to $72,000 next year based, in large part, on new EPA engine requirements. Based on these factors a 15 year replacement cycle would require an additional appropriation of $16,179,069 ($26,856,000-$10,676,931). However, implementing such a replacement cycle could save approximately $850,000 the first year as a result of increased fuel economy and reduced repair costs. Therefore, net first year cost can be an estimated $15,329,000. It should be noted that in order to maintain a fifteen year replacement cycle appropriations would need to be periodically adjusted for inflation.
There are currently no state funds appropriated to SDE to provide alternate public schools transportation services to the districts. Those districts that request this service pay SDE for costs incurred, and continue to incur some of the cost associated with this transportation including bus driver salaries and fringe benefits. Total cost for alternate program transportation is $3.9 million annually based on the districts' request for this service. Therefore, state funding for this grant program is at the General Assembly's discretion.
SDE estimates the price differential between biodiesel and regular fuel at 2.15 cents per gallon. If the department is able to use biodiesel 20% of the time based on $12,900,000 gallons of fuel consumed annually savings can be an estimated $55,470
South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind (SCDB)
SCDB has a fleet of 25 buses that drives approximately 180,000 miles annually. SCDB estimates the costs of enactment to be $36,600 annually due to the requirements associated with unescorted students and the transportation of four-year-olds to and from child development sessions. This includes an additional $15,250 for fuel and parts, $9,350 in depreciation and $12,000 in additional bus drivers and attendant compensation.
Department of Public Safety
The department indicates that this bill would have no impact on the General Fund of the State or federal and/or other funds as this activity is currently being performed by the department's State Transport Police Division.
Total additional operating expenses (fuel & parts) associated with enactment is an estimated $2.16 million while annual depreciation and replacement expenses (based on a 15 year replacement cycle) are an estimated $17.6 million. A proportional increase in "flow through" funds can be an estimated $2.14 million while additional district expenses are an estimated $3.4 million assuming bus driver's salaries are adjusted to compensate for the additional time. However, bus drivers' salaries are set by the respective districts and any additional cost for salaries and fringe benefits not covered by the State would be paid for by the districts. The amount appropriated for hazardous and alternate public schools transportation is at the General Assembly's discretion but should not be more than $7.56 million. SDE notes that cost estimates for sections 59-67-420(B) and (D) are somewhat overlapping thereby reducing the net overall impact by approximately $1 million (three quarters of which can be estimated as state funds). Estimates on the attached spreadsheet summary have been adjusted to reflect overlapping estimates between these two sections. Total net impact on state funds can be an estimated $29.5 million assuming the General Assembly increases "flow through" funds to further supplement bus drivers' salaries and covers the full cost associated with hazardous transportation and alternate public schools transportation.
Office of State Budget
59-67-105 59-67-420(B) 59-67-420(D) 59-67-420(E) 59-67-580(A) 59-67-580(B) 59-67-585
Maximum Hazardous Unescorted Child 15 Year Alternate Biodiesel
Ride Time Transportation Students Development Replacement Public Schools Fuel TOTAL
Department of Education
Operating - Fuel
& Parts 1,104,660 - 1,960,250 - (850,000) - (55,470) 2,159,440
Replacement - Based
on a 15 Year
Replacement Cycle (1) 489,600 - 962,425 - 16,179,069 - - 17,631,094
Funds - Primarily
for Bus Drivers'
Compensation 951,000 - 1,188,625 - - - - 2,139,625
Based on Existing
Districts Cost -
to SDE (2) - 3,662,500 - - - 3,900,000 - 7,562,500
Subtotal - SDE 2,545,260 3,662,500 4,111,300 - 15,329,069 3,900,000 (55,470) 29,492,659
School for the Deaf and the Blind
and Driver Compensation - - 3,600 33,000 - - - 36,600
TOTAL - STATE $2,545,260 $3,662,500 $4,114,900 $33,000 $15,329,069 $3,900,000 ($55,470) 29,529,259
District Costs $1,713,600 - $1,694,000 - - - - 3,407,600
TOTAL - State
and Districts $4,258,860 $3,662,500 $5,808,900 $33,000 $15,329,069 $3,900,000 ($55,470) 32,936,859
(1) Current recurring appropriations are not sufficient for a 15 year replacement cycle
(2) Maximum potential cost to the state for both sections
TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 59-67-105 SO AS TO PROVIDE FOR THE MAXIMUM SCHOOL BUS RIDE TIME OF EACH STUDENT AND ROUTING EFFICIENCY FOR EACH SCHOOL BUS; BY ADDING SECTION 59-67-108 SO AS TO PROVIDE FOR REQUIRED SCHOOL BUS DRIVER CERTIFICATION TRAINING; BY ADDING SECTION 59-67-415 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT PARENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAFETY, CONDUCT, AND TIMELY ARRIVAL OF THEIR CHILDREN TO, FROM, AND AT THE SCHOOL BUS STOP; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-100, RELATING TO SCHOOL BUS SEATING SPACE AND STUDENTS ASSIGNED TO A SCHOOL BUS, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS ASSIGNED TO A SCHOOL BUS MUST NOT BE GREATER THAN THE MANUFACTURER CERTIFIED SEATING CAPACITY AND PROVIDE THAT ALL PASSENGERS TRANSPORTED MUST HAVE ADEQUATE SEATING AREA TO COMPLY WITH CERTAIN STANDARDS; TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-270, RELATING TO INSPECTION OF BUSES, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT SCHOOL BUSES MUST BE INSPECTED AT LEAST ONCE ANNUALLY; AND TO AMEND SECTION 59-67-420, RELATING TO TRANSPORTATION TO BE PROVIDED TO STUDENTS, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE STATE SHALL BEAR THE COST OF TRANSPORTING STUDENTS WHEN THE TRANSPORTATION IS AUTHORIZED BY STATE LAW OR REGULATION, PROVIDE THAT THE STATE MAY ASSUME THE RESPONSIBILITY OF TRANSPORTING STUDENTS WHO LIVE WITHIN A CERTAIN DISTANCE OF THE SCHOOL WHEN HAZARDOUS TRAFFIC CONDITIONS ARE INVOLVED, PROVIDE THAT THE SCHOOL DISTRICT SHALL ESTABLISH HAZARDOUS TRAFFIC CRITERIA, PROVIDE FOR HAZARDOUS TRAFFIC FUNDS, PROVIDE THAT THE STATE SHALL PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION TO AND FROM THE RESIDENCE OF EACH UNESCORTED STUDENT PURSUANT TO CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES AND DEFINE UNESCORTED STUDENT.
Amend Title To Conform
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Article 1, Chapter 67, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 59-67-105. (A) A student may not ride continuously on a state-owned school bus for more than ninety minutes. With the approval of the Department of Education, the ninety-minute maximum ride time may be exceeded when the area's geography requires longer than average highway travel because of a circuitous or meandering road network, extremely low population density, or waterway barriers. The ninety-minute maximum ride time may be exceeded when attendance zones are multidistrict or countywide.
(B) The Department of Education annually shall assure that state-owned school buses are routed in the most efficient manner and shall require that they are operated only on adequately maintained and safe public and private accessible highways and streets."
SECTION 2. Article 1, Chapter 67, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 59-67-108. (A) Only a person who has been certified by the State Board of Education may drive a school bus, as defined in Section 59-67-10, when transporting preprimary, primary, or secondary students to or from school, school-related activities, or childcare.
(B) Any person transporting ten or more preprimary, primary, or secondary students to or from school, school-related activities, or childcare in a vehicle with enabled traffic control devices must receive training as to the proper operation of these traffic control devices."
SECTION 3. Article 3, Chapter 67, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 59-67-415. Parents or guardians are responsible for the safety, conduct, and the timely arrival of their children to, from, and at the designated school bus stop before the arrival of the school bus for pick up and transport to school and the timely departure of the child after the school bus leaves the designated school bus stop after transporting the children from school. For purposes of this section, the phrase 'arrival of the school bus' includes the time that the school bus assigned to the school bus stop activates the required pedestrian safety devices, stops, and loads or unloads students until the school bus deactivates all pedestrian safety devices."
SECTION 4. Section 59-67-100 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-100. Sufficient seating space
shall must be provided so far as practicable for each passenger transported inside each school bus, no an aisle in the school bus shall must not be less than twelve inches in width and all seats shall must be securely fastened to the floor or body of the vehicle. All pupils students must be within the body of the bus at all times while the bus is in motion. They shall not be permitted to ride on the running boards or in Students are not permitted any other place outside the bus , nor shall they be permitted to and may not ride with heads or arms protruding through open windows. Commencing with the 1974-75 school year, the number of pupils transported on a school bus shall not exceed by more than ten percent the manufacturer's rated seating capacity of such bus; and by the school year 1975-76, seating space shall be provided for each pupil transported. The number of students assigned to a school bus must not be greater than the manufacturer certified seating capacity, and all passengers transported must have adequate seating area to comply with the occupant protection performance standards required in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Provided, however, that a limited number of standees excess passengers on regular routes may be permitted until the bus routes can be adjusted to accommodate the overload but not to exceed twenty school days."
SECTION 5. Section 59-67-270 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-270. (A)(1) All publicly owned or leased school buses, including buses owned or leased by a public school district, must be inspected annually in compliance with the State Department of Education annual school bus inspection program.
(2) All privately owned vehicles designed and used to transport ten or more preprimary, primary, or secondary students to or from school, school-related activities, or childcare must be inspected annually. Inspections for these privately owned vehicles must comply with applicable federal inspection requirements. A copy of the vehicle inspection report must be kept on these vehicles at all times.
(B) All school buses
shall be are subject to inspection at any time or place by officers of the State Highway Patrol Transport Police or inspection forces. No A school bus shall may not continue in operation in the transportation of pupils students when the annual inspection is more than twelve months old or the school bus is found to be unsafe after any inspection until the unsafe conditions disclosed by such the inspection shall have been corrected."
SECTION 6. Section 59-67-420 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 59-67-420. (A) The State, acting through the State Board of Education, assumes no obligation to transport any
child student to or from school who lives within one and one-half miles of the school he attends, nor to provide transportation services extending within a one-half mile radius of the residence of any child student, nor to furnish transportation for any child student who attends a grade in a school outside the pupil's district school attendance zone in which the student resides when the same grade is taught in an appropriate school that is located within the school district in which the pupil lives student resides. The State shall bear the cost of transporting pupils students to regularly organized instructional classes in the district or school attendance area for which state-required school credit is given must be borne by the State. The cost of transportation for new programs conducted by the school districts must be borne by the school district until such time as the program is approved by the State Board of Education and adequate funding for the cost of transportation for the programs is arranged. The State is not responsible for any additional transportation that is not authorized by state law or regulation.
(B) The State may assume the obligation of transporting students living within one and one-half miles of their schools and within
a one-half mile radius of their residences when it is for the health and safety of the children students where hazardous traffic conditions are involved provided funds are appropriated annually by the General Assembly for this purpose. In these cases, the local school district may shall apply in writing to the State Department of Education for the department State to assume the financial responsibility for this transportation for the health and safety of the children involved provided funds are appropriated annually by the General Assembly for this purpose. If funds are not appropriated by the General Assembly, then neither the State nor a local school district is required to assume this obligation. In its application, local school districts shall assign priority to its requests for transportation on the basis of children's ages, with the youngest children subject to hazardous conditions receiving the highest priorities. After examining the request, the state department shall render a decision on each application based on the location of the schools in relation to students' homes, the traffic patterns on adjacent roads, the existence of sidewalks, children's ages, and other factors considered pertinent. The state department shall not approve local district applications that have not assigned priority on the basis of children's ages, with the youngest children receiving highest priority. Highway and railroad traffic hazardous criteria must be established by the school district governing body and must respond to the safety of the walk zone as it relates to the location of the school to the student's residence, the traffic patterns, speeds and volume on roadways and railroads, the existence of sidewalks or other walk paths, the student's age, available crossing control systems and personnel, and other factors considered pertinent. The districts shall weigh the need for the state hazardous transportation funds by giving priority to students who are least familiar with traffic movement and the complexity of the traffic hazards. The Department of Education shall equitably allocate appropriated funds to the district for hazardous transportation services provided funds are appropriated by the General Assembly for this purpose. The department shall receive each district's applications for transportation within a hazardous area and apply these against the district's allocation until available funds are exhausted. When available state funds are exhausted, the remaining costs are the responsibility of the respective district if the local school district has elected to assume this obligation.
Regardless of the provisions of the first paragraph of this section Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (A), the State shall transport and bear the cost of transporting five-year old four-year-old children students attending public school kindergarten programs to their residences at the conclusion of a morning kindergarten child development session and from their residences to an afternoon kindergarten child development session.
(D) The State shall provide school transportation service to and from the residence of each unescorted student who is eligible to receive state funded school transportation service and who is enrolled in a full-day four-year-old child development program or kindergarten through the second grade provided funds are appropriated annually by the General Assembly for this purpose. The State shall provide school transportation service within two-tenths of a mile of each unescorted student who is eligible to receive state funded school transportation service and who is enrolled in third through fifth grade provided funds are appropriated annually by the General Assembly for this purpose. The special provisions of unescorted students in child development through fifth grade are limited to service documented in the annual route plan. If funds are not appropriated by the General Assembly, then neither the State nor a local school district is required to assume this obligation.
(E) An unescorted student is defined as a student who has no adult or responsible older person available to accompany him to or from the school bus stop for the purpose of providing protection and guidance. Parents or guardians may be considered unavailable for escort and exempt from the provisions of Section 59-67-415 if they meet the unescorted criteria established by the school district governing body. These criteria must be approved by the State Department of Education. The criteria shall consider parents and guardians who are nonambulatory, head of a single-parent family with a work schedule that requires them to be away from their residence when the bus is scheduled to load or unload their child, a caretaker for a child under the age of one-year or another person requiring their undivided attention, or for other similar circumstances."
SECTION 7. Article 1, Chapter 67, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 59-67-580. (A) With funds appropriated by the General Assembly for school bus purchases, the State Board of Education shall implement a school bus replacement cycle to replace approximately one-fifteenth of the fleet each year with new school buses, resulting in a complete replacement of the fleet every fifteen years. These funds must not be used for school bus maintenance or fuel.
(B) With funds appropriated by the General Assembly for transportation grant programs, the department shall establish a grant program to fund transportation of students to alternate public schools including, but not limited to, vocational second and third choice schools, magnet schools, montessori schools, international baccalaureate schools, and English as a second language schools. Those districts having alternate public schools may apply to the department for grant funds to pay for the additional cost of transporting students to these schools. If funds are not appropriated by the General Assembly for this purpose, then neither the State nor a local school district is required to assume this obligation."
SECTION 8. Article 1, Chapter 67, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 59-67-585. The State Department of Education, when feasible, shall utilize biodiesel fuel as an energy source to power the state school bus fleet."
SECTION 9. Article 1, Chapter 67, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 59-67-300. State-owned school buses must be parked overnight and during the school day in a location that is central to the area in which the school buses are operated. The Department of Education shall grant a waiver to the requirements of this section if a waiver is requested by the district transportation supervisor."
SECTION 10. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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