Vermont School Bus Idling Rule

Vermont school bus idling rule & no-idling guidelines

 

In 2007, the Vermont legislature, learning of the adverse impact idling school buses had on student health and air quality in school buildings, taxpayer dollars and Vermont's environment, passed Act 48: an act related to the idling of school buses on school grounds. This became known as the Vermont school bus idling rule, enacted into law in 2008.

 

What about vehicles idling on school grounds other than school buses? For vehicles other than school buses on school grounds, supervisory unions and school districts have the option of adopting no-idling guidelines such as a the no-idling model policy offered in Section 2 of Vermont's school bus idling rule. It deems that the Agency of Education (AOE) shall develop a model policy relating to idling of vehicles other than school buses (parents, faculty, students, delivery, etc.) to be distributed to schools for their use. This provision would be left up to school boards to decide. As stated in the Sec. 2 Model Policy, "It is the intent of the school board to also limit the idling of motor vehicles other than school buses on school grounds." As the AOE model policy was drafted in 2007, Idle-Free VT offers an updated model policy. Supervisory unions and school districts may instead adopt no-idling administrative procedures, which are quicker and easier than adopting a policy, as school board approval is not necessary. Idle-Free VT recommends the adoption of administrative procedures and offers an administrative procedure.

 

Number of schools adopting no-idling guidelines (as of 2015): There are 61 supervisory union and school district superintendencies in Vermont. 17 of these SUs/SDs have adopted no-idling guidelines for vehicles other than school buses. This encompasses approximately 100 member schools that have board approved policies or administrative procedures out of approx. 310 Vermont public schools:

 

Addison Northeast SU, Addison Rutland SU, Blue Mountain SD, Chittenden Central SU, Chittenden East SU, Chittenden South SU, North Country SU, Rutland Public Schools, Rutland Northeast SU, Rutland South SU, Rutland Southwest SU, Springfield SD, Washington Central SU, Washington West SU, Windham Central SU, Windham Northeast SU, Windsor Central SU.

 

Ask your supervisory union or school district to adopt an official guideline

 

Contact your school principal and local school board members and ask them to adopt a no-idling guildeline such as a policy or administrative procedure through their supervisory union or school district. If your school already has no-idling guidelines, ask them to enforce it, suggesting this document.

 

How is the school bus idling rule enforced?

 

Statement from an AOE member: Like many regulations, there is no blatant and specified enforcement arm. However, the school board and the superintendent have the responsibility of seeing that laws are followed that pertain to the actions of their staff, particularly on school grounds. It is also of note that Title 23 is the jurisdiction of the Dept. of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Violation of 23 V.S.A. § 1282 is a traffic violation, 23 V.S.A. § 2302((a)(3). The penalty/fines are pursuant to 4 V.S.A. § 1102(d).

 

Statement from a DEC staff member: Because the rule is an Agency of Education regulation, it cannot be enforced as if it were a traffic violation. The Agency of Education can penalize the school district for failure to comply with its regulations, and ultimately can withhold education funding from the school district if the offense rises to that level.

 

Compliance issues

 

 There have been school bus idling rule compliance issues due to misinterpretation or willful ignorance of the rule mostly pertaining to supposed temperature exemptions. For details, view the Compliance Issues webpage, including complaint mechanisms.

 

Dedicated school bus driver

 

George Apgar is a bus driver for the Weybridge Elementary School, a school in the Addison Central Supervisory Union. George is retired from the Agency of Natural Resources - Air Quality and Climate Division. As a bus driver, he does everything possible to protect the health of school kids, the environment, and to conserve energy. Warming up a diesel school bus on a cold morning can be a challenge when it comes to having a cleared windshield, both from snow and ice accumulation and defrosting. George has rigged up a clever system for covering the windshield to prevent it from icing/frosting up overnight (click to enlarge photo). This allows him to keep his start-up idling time to a minimum. This demonstrates George's commitment to minimizing air pollution from unnecessary idling, and should serve as an example to other drivers to follow. Watch George Apgar and his secrets to going idle-free.

School bus idling resources

 

• The US EPA national campaign on school bus idling, Clean School Bus, has a comprehensive webpage on school buses and idling. As shown in the Idling Myths section, school buses rarely need to idle.

 

• The Air Quality & Climate Division of the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation provides this information: Diesel Exhaust from School Buses in Vermont. It includes a Summary of School Bus Idling Regulations and Initiatives in the Northeast. The Air Quality & Climate Division also has information on Vermont School Bus Retrofits and School Bus Replacements - all in the interest of cleaner diesel emissions.

 

• The Asthma Regional Council of New England has an excellent School Bus No Idling Policy

 

Grassroots Environmental Education is a New York-based non-profit organization with a mission to educate the public about the links between common environmental exposures and human health, and to empower individuals to act as catalysts for change within their own communities.

 

Among their programs is The Childsafe School which deals with the health impact of chemicals used in cleaning schools, turf pesticides, and school bus diesel idling.

 

The program states, "Diesel exhaust contains many chemicals, some of which are known human carcinogens. In addition to exacerbating asthmatic symptoms it has been to shown to even cause asthma. The EPA says there is no safe level of exposure. “No-Idling” policies are a simple and effective solution.

Watch The Childsafe School: No Idling Zone video