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Meeting of the Board of Regents | April 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - 9:15am

sed seal                                                                                                 







Johanna Duncan-Poitier



Proposed Amendments to the Regulations of the Commissioner Relating to Pupil Transportation



March 27, 2008


Goals 2, 3 and 4






Issue for Discussion


Should the Board of Regents add the proposed new section 156.3(h) of the Commissioner’s Regulations, to prescribe requirements to minimize the idling of school buses and other vehicles?


Reason(s) for Consideration


Required by State statute.


Proposed Handling


The question will come before the Regents EMSC Committee for discussion in April 2008 and will be submitted for approval at the June 2008 Regents meeting.


Procedural History


Not applicable.


Background Information


The proposed regulation is necessary to implement Education Law section 3637, as added by Chapter 670 of the Laws of 2007, which directs the Commissioner to promulgate regulations requiring school districts to minimize, to the extent practicable, the idling of the engine of any school bus and other vehicles owned or leased by the school district while such bus or vehicle is parked or standing on school grounds, or in front of any school.


New York State has the largest fleet of school buses in the nation with over 50,000 vehicles transporting over 2.5 million pupils each day over 225 million miles annually.   As a result our children are being exposed to sizeable hazards from school bus emissions.  Children are even more susceptible to air pollution than adults because their respiratory systems are still developing and they have a faster rate of breathing.  Diesel exhaust contains billions of small particles that can cause lung damage and aggravate asthma, bronchitis and other health problems.


The United States Environmental Protection Agency has been concerned about the idling of school buses in New York State.  They performed a study on school bus idling using the Katonah-Lewisboro School District.  The study was specifically designed to determine which of several different methods of running a school bus engine during the winter months was the most effective in reducing emissions while providing cost efficient and safe pupil transportation services.   The study results clearly showed that the most effective method is turning the bus engine off.


The State Education Department in consultation with the Health Department have determined that the most effective method for reducing emissions and school bus idling in order to protect children with asthma and other respiratory conditions, is to apply the regulation to all school districts.  One third of our student population resides in areas of the State where the air quality is compromised.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency has found that exhaust fumes are polluting the air in our communities and can enter school buildings through fresh air intakes, doors and open windows.  They have identified 21 chemicals in truck and bus emissions that are known or suspected to cause cancer and other serious health conditions.  These emissions can hurt the entire population leading to increased hospital admissions, emergency room use, school absences and work loss.


For these reasons it is important that we not limit the protection afforded our children to those whose respiratory health is already compromised, but take firm steps to insure that all of our children are protected from the harmful effects of pollutants from idling school buses.


A Notice of Proposed Rule Making will be published in the State Register on April 2, 2008. 




It is recommended that the Regents EMSC Committee reach consensus on the intent of the proposed regulation prior to taking action at its June 2008 meeting.



Timetable for Implementation


It is anticipated that the proposed regulation will be submitted to the Board of Regents for adoption at the June 2008 Regents meeting, with an effective date of July 17, 2008.











































Pursuant to Education Law sections 207, 305 and 3637 and Chapter 670 of the Laws of 2007

Subdivision (h) of section 156.3 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education is added, effective July 17, 2008, as follows:

              (h) Idling school buses on school grounds. 

              (1)  Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subdivision, each school district shall ensure that each driver of a school bus, as defined in Vehicle and Traffic Law section 142, or other vehicle owned, leased or contracted for by such school district, shall turn off the engine of such school bus or vehicle while waiting for passengers to load or off load on school grounds, or while such vehicle is parked or standing on school grounds or in front of or adjacent to any school.

              (2)  Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subdivision and unless otherwise required by State or local law, the idling of a school bus or vehicle engine may be permitted to the extent necessary to achieve the following purposes:  (i) for mechanical work; or (ii) to maintain an appropriate temperature for passenger comfort; or (iii) in emergency evacuations where necessary to operate wheelchair lifts.

              (3)  Each school district shall ensure that each driver of a school bus shall:

              (i) instruct pupils on the necessity to board the school bus promptly in the afternoon in order to reduce loading time;

              (ii) whenever possible, park diagonally in school loading areas to minimize the exhaust that may enter the school bus from adjacent buses; and

              (iii) turn off the bus engine during sporting or other events.

              (4)  Each school district shall annually provide their school personnel, no later than five school days after the start of school, with notice of the provisions of Education Law section 3637 and of this section, in a format prescribed and provided by the Commissioner to such school districts for dissemination.

              (5)  Each school district shall monitor compliance with the provisions of this subdivision by school bus drivers and drivers of vehicles owned, leased or contracted for by such school district, by performing two annual monitoring reviews, the first to be administered between November 1st and December 31st, inclusive, and the second to be administered between April 1st and May 31st, inclusive.  Each school district shall prepare a written report of such review, which shall include the name of each driver checked, the date, and degree of adherence to the provisions of this subdivision.  Copies of the report shall be retained in the school district's files for a period of six years and shall be provided to the Commissioner upon request.

              (6)  All contracts for pupil transportation services between a school district and a private vendor that are entered into on or after July 17, 2008, shall include a provision requiring such vendor's compliance with the provisions of this subdivision .