BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:  August 3, 2016


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                               Lorena Gonzalez, Chair


          SB 1072  
          (Mendoza) - As Amended June 29, 2016


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          |Policy       |Transportation                 |Vote:|13 - 0       |
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          |             |Education                      |     |7 - 0        |
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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  YesReimbursable:   
          Yes


          SUMMARY:


          This bill requires local education agencies (LEAs) to ensure  
          various bus safety requirements are met, including the  
          installation of child safety alarms, as specified, to ensure  
          that a student is not left unattended on a bus.  Specifically,  
          this bill:  










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          1)Requires, on or before the 2018-19 school year, each school  
            bus, youth bus and child care motor vehicle to be equipped  
            with an operational child safety alert system.  


          2)Requires school pupil activity buses (SPABs) to be equipped  
            with child alert systems, except when the SPAB is not used  
            exclusively to transport students and when various safety  
            precautions are in place, including specific chaperone and bus  
            driver requirements. The bill also requires the bus driver and  
            chaperone to fill out a form verifying that all required  
            procedures have been followed. Local education agencies (LEAs)  
            are required to keep these forms for a minimum of two years. 


          3)Requires LEAs, or the owner or operator of a private school  
            that provides transportation to or from a school or school  
            activity, to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)  
            within five calendar days if the driver's employer has ordered  
            and upheld disciplinary action against a driver and has made a  
            finding that the driver's actions constituted gross  
            negligence.  And authorizes the DMV to refuse to issue or  
            revoke a driver's certificate if there is a report of         
            gross negligence, as specified. A former applicant or holder  
            of a certificate whose certificate was revoked may reapply for  
            a certificate if the revocation is reversed or dismissed by  
            the department.


          4)Requires the California Highway Patrol (CHP), on or before  
            January 1, 2018, to adopt regulations governing the  
            specification, installation and use of child safety alarms.


          5)Adds charter schools to the list of local education agencies  
            (LEAs) that are required to develop a safe transportation  
            plan, if they provide transportation services.










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          6)Requires LEAs to update their transportation plan to include  
            procedures to ensure that a pupil is not left unattended on a  
            school bus, SPAB, or youth bus.


          FISCAL EFFECT:


          1)Proposition 98/GF cost pressures, likely in the hundreds of  
            thousands of dollars, for LEAs to modify transportation plans,  
            report information to the DMV, maintain specified documents  
            for two years and install child alarm systems. These costs are  
            not likely reimbursable since state law does not require  
            school districts to provide transportation on school buses.   



          2)Minor GF costs to the California Department of Education (CDE)  
            to modify bus driver training programs to include instruction  
            on inspection procedures that ensure a student is not left  
            unattended. 

          3)Minor/absorbable costs for the California Highway Patrol (CHP)  
            to adopt regulations regarding child safety alarm systems, and  
            to incorporate requirements into school bus inspections.





          4)Minor/absorbable costs for the Department of Motor Vehicles  
            (DMV) to account for an additional circumstance that would  
            result in the refusal to issue or renew a bus driver  
            certificate, or the revocation or suspension of that  
            certificate.  



          COMMENTS:








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          1)Purpose. According to the author, there have been at least  
            eight instances of children being left alone and unsupervised  
            on schoolbuses for hours at a time in California.  Most  
            recently, the author notes the death of a 19 year-old  
            special-needs student who passed away after being left alone  
            on a hot schoolbus for several hours at the end of a  
            home-to-school trip in Whittier.
            
            The author's seeks to protect children getting to and from  
            school by establishing safe pupil transportation procedures to  
            help prevent children from being left unattended on buses.   
            These procedures include the installation of child safety  
            alarm systems on vehicles that transport children. The bill  
            also strengthens driver protocols and training and provides  
            the DMV the authority to suspend the bus driver's certificate  
            if a report determines gross negligence. 

          2)School Pupil Activity Buses (SPABs). This bill seeks to  
            prevent children from being left unattended on buses,  
            including School Pupil Activity Buses (SPABs).  SPABs are  
            typically chartered buses which take students to and from  
            school activities, such as sporting events.  SPABs are  
            required to have a parent representative or school official  
            present at the beginning and end of each trip.  
            
            According to the California Bus Association, its members  
            estimate the cost per bus to retrofit a vehicle's electrical  
            and computer systems to accommodate an external alarm system  
            at $7,000.  CHP estimates the number of motorcoaches operated  
            by commercial carriers in California at approximately 13,000.   
            While not all of these vehicles function as SPABs, and the  
            cost would likely fluctuate from vehicle to vehicle, the cost  
            to retrofit these SPABs could be considerable.  
            
            Recent amendments exempt SPABs from the requirement to install  
            alarm systems if the SPAB is not used exclusively to transport  
            students and certain bus driver and chaperone requirements are  








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            met. The California Bus Association and other private carriers  
            have removed opposition with these amendments.

          3)Local education agency cost pressures. This bill would impose  
            new requirements on LEAs that opt to provide a transportation  
            program. These additional requirements will place pressure on  
            local school district budgets and could result in state  
            pressures to provide additional Proposition 98/GF support. 
            
            There are approximately 24,000 school buses in California. The  
            number of buses already equipped with alarm systems is  
            unknown.  Los Angeles Unified School District has already  
            equipped their fleet of 1,300 buses. They incurred costs of  
            approximately $194,000 or approximately $150 per bus.  The  
            costs of these systems vary based on the vendor and the  
            complexity of the system and the electrical and computer  
            systems of the vehicles in which they are installed. 



            Although school bus transportation programs are not required,  
            most school districts provide transportation. Many school  
            districts receive support for their transportation programs  
            through the Home-to-School Transportation (HTST) program,  
            which provides $491 million (Proposition 98/GF). The LAO  
            estimates, however, that this funding only covers  
            approximately 35% of total school transportation costs.  The  
            HTST program is also based on historic funding formulas that  
            do not often reflect actual transportation costs in individual  
            districts.  Any costs not covered by HTST funds come from the  
            school district's general fund.    

          4)Commission on State Mandates and transportation costs. Prior  
            decisions by the Commission on State Mandates (CSM) indicate  
            the CSM is not likely to rule that the activities imposed by  
            this bill will constitute a state reimbursable mandate. For  
            example, test claims submitted for existing school bus safety  
            requirements in statute, including the development of a  
            transportation plan and requiring seatbelts in buses, have  








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            been determined by the CSM to not constitute a reimbursable  
            state mandate because those activities are triggered by a  
            decision to provide transportation services to students.  

            Some school districts are required to provide transportation  
            services to their special education students if the student's  
            individualized education plan (IEP) determines these services  
            are necessary to ensure a free and appropriate education under  
            the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act  
            (IDEA). The CSM ruled, however, that "although school  
            districts may provide school bus or school pupil activity bus  
            transportation, along with a variety of other possible  
            options, to fulfill the possible transportation requirements  
            under the [federal] IDEA, neither state law nor the IDEA  
            requires school districts to provide school bus or school  
            pupil activity bus transportation."   
          


          


          Analysis Prepared by:Misty Feusahrens / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081