No-Idling Guidelines - FOR THE KIDS!
For the 2015-16 school year, Vermont Idle-Free Schools, a funded project of the High Meadows Fund and the Vermont Community Foundation is working with supervisory union and school district superintendents to adopt official no-idling guidelines such as administrative procedures, board approved policies, or handbook rules. This applies to vehicles other than school buses on school grounds; Vermont already has a school bus idling rule. The project goal is to increase the number of Vermont schools with no-idling guidelines by 25.
Why adopt official school no-idling guidelines? Idling matters!
Protecting student health:
• The EPA tells us that Idling vehicles contribute to air pollution and emit air toxins, which are pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects. Monitoring at schools has shown elevated levels of benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and other air toxics during the afternoon hour coinciding with parents picking up their children. Children’s lungs are still developing, and when they are exposed to elevated levels of these pollutants, children have an increased risk of developing asthma, respiratory problems and other adverse health effects. Limiting a vehicle’s idling time can dramatically reduce these pollutants and children’s exposure to them.
• “Exhaust from idling vehicles is a common asthma trigger at schools. By limiting exposure to tailpipe emissions, schools can help reduce their students’ risk of developing asthma and decrease the severity of symptoms among students who already have the disease.”
David Grass, PhD
Environmental Health Surveillance Chief
Vermont Department of Health
School administrators have a great responsibility for ensuring the safety and well-being of students. A no-idling procedure or policy goes hand-in-hand with fulfilling that responsibility.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving energy: The environmental impact of non-school bus idling vehicles, over a school year, is significant. In the 2014-15 school year, Vermont Idle-Free Schools worked with six schools that participated in long term vehicle idling study campaigns on school grounds. While these campaigns led to an overall 32% in idling on school grounds, Initial data collected last fall over four to five days provided combined findings that idling vehicles burned more than 15 gallons of fuel and emitted more than 300 pounds of CO2. For a 180 school year, this would come to more than 650 gallons and more than 12,500 pounds of CO2 for the six schools. It is likely that a similar amount of idling occurs at schools throughout the state.
The overall impact of passenger vehicle idling in Vermont: University of Vermont Transportation Research Center 2014 passenger vehicle idling study estimates that Vermonters idle vehicles voluntarily (while parked) for 9.6 million hours annually resulting in 36,500 metric tons of CO2 emitted. This equates to 4.1 million gallons of fuel consumed. Note this does not include trucks and buses.
Procedures or Policies?
We are recommending that superintendents aim for administrative procedures. Procedures are quicker and easier to adopt and provide school administrators with purposeful steps to restrict vehicle idling at their schools. Among the list of schools with no-idling guidelines below, please look at two supervisory unions -- Addison Northeast and Windham Central -- which adopted procedures. If superintendents still wish to pursue board-approved policies, please be mindful of the challenges: now that Vermont has an idling restriction law, many school boards believe that policies are no longer necessary and that laws trump policies; and that the Vermont School Boards Association refuses to list the AOE no-idling model policy in the VSBA policies manual.
Law vs Guideline: Since Vermont recently enacted a prohibited idling of motor vehicles law, some superintendents and school board members feel an official guideline such as a procedure or policy is no longer necessary. But the law allows five minutes of idling. The goal around school buildings -- where parents tend to leave engines running while waiting for students at dismissal -- is for no idling. The law is stagnant while a no-idling guideline lists purposeful steps to limit idling at schools. Please read the Fact Sheet: Vermont No-Idling Law vs Guideline to understand why school no-idling procedures and policies remain important in the school community.
Enforcement: A no-idling guideline can require school staff or others to perform some idling driver interventions in school pickup lines and parking lots. Please read the Fact Sheet: Making School No-Idling Guidelines Work to understand that there are other means in making a procedure or policy successful, thereby minimizing unpleasant, time consuming interventions.
Download templates: To aid in adopting an official no-idling guideline, download a Procedure Template or Policy Template. The policy template is an updated version of the original no-idling AOE Model Policy.
18 supervisory unions/school districts with official no-idling guidelines (documents available upon request):
• Addison Northeast Supervisory Union: procedure adopted 2012
• Addison Northwest Supervisory Union: procedure adopted 2015
• Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union: policy adopted 2008
• Blue Mountain School District: policy adopted 2012
• Chittenden Central Supervisory Union: handbook rule
• Chittenden East Supervisory Union: idling guideline adopted 2007
• Chittenden South Supervisory Union: policy adopted 2009
• Essex Town School District: handbook rule 2015-16 (pg. 13)
• Morristown School District: policy adopted 2008
• North Country Supervisory Union: policy adopted 2013
• Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union: procedure adopted 2015
• Rutland Public Schools: policy adopted 2014
• Rutland South Supervisory Union: policy adopted 2014 (except Mill River Union H.S.)
• Rutland Southwest Supervisory Union: policy adopted 2011
• Springfield School District: policy adopted 2009
• Washington Central Supervisory Union: policy adopted 2008
• Washington West Supervisory Union: policy adopted 2011 (except Harwood Union Middle & H.S.)
• Windham Central Supervisory Union: procedure adopted 2014
Issuing reminders to reduce idling at schools
Regardless of whether or not supervisory unions and school districts have no-idling guidelines, please instruct your member schools to issue reminders to reduce idling in school newsletters, websites, etc. It is suggested this be done semi-annually. THIS is a suggested template.
No-idling signs: In 2008, after enactment of the school bus idling rule, all Vermont schools posted no-idling signs. In many cases these signs have become weathered over the years. Also, these older signs do not mention that no idling is the law. Supervisory unions and school districts can order updated signs from the Vermont Correctional Industries (VCI) Sign Shop: toll free 866-729-8715, local 802-334-8994 AHS.DOCVCISignShop@vermont.gov
LET'S DO THIS - FOR THE KIDS!