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AB 579 And SB 775 – New Requirements For Local Educational Agencies Related Zero-Emission School Bus Purchases And Service Contracts
Upon appropriation by the Legislature, state funds are to be distributed to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for distribution to school districts, county offices of education, or charter schools (LEA) to purchase low- or zero-emission school buses to replace, or increase the number of, school buses in the existing school bus fleet, or for retrofitting existing school buses to achieve reductions in emissions.
Assembly Bill 579 requires, commencing January 1, 2035, that all school buses purchased or contracted by a LEA be zero-emission vehicles, where feasible.
AB 579 authorizes the State Air Resources Board, in consultation with the Department of Education, and the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, to grant a one-time extension for a term not to exceed five years if a LEA determines that purchasing or contracting zero-emission school bus is not feasible due to both terrain and route constraints, and can reasonably demonstrate that a daily planned bus route for transporting pupils to and from school cannot be serviced through available zero-emission technology in 2035.
From January 1, 2040 through January 1, 2045, AB 579 authorizes LEA that meet certain criteria to apply for additional annual extensions. The annual extensions are only available if the LEA has a total number of pupils in average daily attendance at all of the schools served by the LEA less than 600 pupils or each county in which a school operated by the LEA has a total population density fewer than 10 persons per square mile. Similarly, the State Air Resources Board, in consultation with the Department of Education, and the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, can grant the annual extensions if the LEA determines that purchasing or contracting zero-emission school buses is not feasible due to both terrain and route constraints and can reasonably demonstrate that a daily planned bus route for transporting pupils to and from school cannot be serviced through available zero-emission technology for each year that the extension is sought.
The Education Code currently limits a continuing contract for pupil transportation services or school bus lease or rental to a 5-year term, or 10-year term if the school bus lease or rental contract provides the school district with the option to cancel or purchase school buses at the end of each annual period. AB 579 extends these term limits to 15 years and 20 years, respectively, for contracts utilizing school buses that are zero-emission vehicles. AB 579 extends these contracting provisions from only school districts to county offices of education and charter schools.
SB 775 authorizes a LEA using a zero-emission school bus to transport pupils at or below the 12th-grade level to place signage on the rear of the zero-emission school bus that identifies the school bus as a clean air zero-emission bus pursuant to guidelines governing the size and placement of that signage set forth by the Department of the California Highway Patrol.
(AB 579 adds Sections 17927 and 39803.5 to the Education Code; SB 775 adds Section 27906.7 to the Vehicle Code.)