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HomeNewsSouth Carolina Bill Seeks to Strip State DOE of School Buses

South Carolina Bill Seeks to Strip State DOE of School Buses

New legislation recently introduced in the South Carolina General Assembly would require school districts beginning with the 2012-2013 school year to begin owning and operating their own school buses or to contract with third-party transportation providers.

Gov. Nikki Haley, pictured on the campaign trail as then a state representative in 2010. One of her promises was to outsource school busing.

H. 4610 was filed on Jan. 17, two days before Gov. Nikki Haley made her second State-of-the-State address, which reiterated a call she made last year to return school busing to the local level. The so-called “South Carolina School Bus Privatization Act of 2012” would require school districts to begin phasing in all transportation services, either individually or in a consolidated manner with neighboring counties, or contract with a school bus company to provide the services. It would also prohibit the Department of Education from owning, purchasing or acquiring additional school buses on or after July 1, 2015.

The bill had been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means as of this report.

South Carolina currently remains the only state in the nation to own, operate and maintain its fleet. But Haley and her supporters claim that the DOE is best served educating students and not racking up the costs associated with transportation.

The National School Transportation Association, which represents private school bus companies nationwide, supports the move to outsource. NSTA members were meeting this week in Wailea, Hawaii for the annual midwinter meeting. There was no word at this report as to to feedback on the South Carolina bill.

“There is absolutely no reason for South Carolina to remain the only state in the nation that runs a bus fleet. It is cumbersome, it is wasteful, and it prevents our Department of Education from focusing its efforts where they need to be — on educating the next generation of South Carolinians,” Haley said in her state address.

Haley’s call is a part of a larger effort to set spending caps and cut taxes, which she hopes to accomplish in part by shrinking the size of the DOE, which began last year. The governor’s website says that contracting out school busing will improve services for students while also freeing up money to be redirected to teachers and classrooms.

The new legislation also calls for state-run school bus maintenance facilities to start being handed over to local districts or contractors via lease or outright sale starting this calendar year. A school transportation reimbursement fund would also be developed for districts to utilize to offset the new costs and to provide for liability insurance.


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