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AMENDED--NOT PRINTED IN THE HOUSE
Amt. No. 1A (Doc. Path council\gjk\20347sd07)
May 22, 2007
Introduced by Reps. Walker, Mahaffey, Herbkersman, Cotty, Hagood, Scarborough and Stavrinakis
S. Printed 5/16/07--S.
Read the first time March 22, 2007.
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)(1) 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.
(2) When transporting public school students, a driver operating a bus owned by the State, a local school agency, or by a private contractor that is in compliance with Section 56-5-2770 and the National School Bus chrome yellow requirements in Section 59-67-30 must possess a School Bus Driver's Certificate-A, as established by the State Board of Education. A driver awarded a school bus driver's certificate pursuant to Section 59-67-470 shall be issued the School Bus Driver's Certificate-A.
(3) When transporting public school students, a driver operating a bus owned by a local school agency or by a private contractor that is not in compliance with either Section 56-5-2770 or the National School Bus chrome yellow requirements in Section 59-67-30 must possess a School Bus Driver's Certificate-B, as established by the State Board of Education. A driver who possesses a School Bus Driver's Certificate-B may not use traffic control devices permitted in Section 56-5-2770.
(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. The State Department of Education shall establish an appropriate level of driver certification."
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. The State Department of Education shall assist in this requirement by providing the training and certification of a limited number of personnel designated by a school district to perform the inspection, providing the inspection manuals and forms, and supplying the inspection certificate stickers for the school buses. The State Department of Education's assistance must be free of charge.
(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.
(3) The owner or lessee of a school bus shall be solely responsible for the implementation and accountability of school bus inspections.
(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 three-tenths of a mile radius walking distance 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 three-tenths of a mile radius walking distance 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 address 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 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. If funds are not appropriated by the General Assembly, then neither the State nor a local school district shall be required 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 three and 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 as closely and safely as practicable, to 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's residence 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. Any unescorted stop made pursuant to this subsection is deemed in compliance with any applicable regulation as determined by the State Department of Education.
(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 if they make application to, meet the unescorted criteria established by, and are granted approval by the school district governing body. The extent and level of service for students will be established and implemented by each individual school district to assure that the most efficient, safe, and timely service possible is provided. To insure equitable distribution of available funds, the State Department of Education must approve the school district criteria associated with the distribution of funds as provided in this subsection. The criteria may consider parents and guardians who are nonambulatory, who are caretakers for a person requiring their undivided attention, or for other similar circumstances.
(F) The State shall provide to the local school district the number of school buses required to accommodate all students identified as eligible for transport with state funds under the provisions of Section 59-67-420."
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 superintendent in compliance with Department of Education policies."
SECTION 10. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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