Local Superintendents Advisory Council discusses new bus purchase regulations

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News Release

Media Contact: Jennifer Ginn

Director of Communications

Office: (502) 564-2000, ext. 4601

Advisory 24-87


March 26, 2024

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Robbie Fletcher, Lawrence County Schools superintendent and chair of the Local Superintendents Advisory Council (LSAC), speaks during the LSAC meeting on March 26. Photo by Joe Ragusa, Kentucky Department of Education, March 26, 2024

Local Superintendents Advisory Council discusses new bus purchase regulations

(FRANKFORT, KY) – The Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) Local Superintendents Advisory Council (LSAC) approved proposed bus specifications for new bus purchases during the council’s meeting on March 26.

Elisa Hanley, pupil transportation branch manager at KDE, said a council of about 25 experts in the school transportation field in Kentucky – superintendents, inspectors, drivers, trainers and technicians – meets annually in February to discuss potential changes and any issues they’re having with school buses, along with solutions other states are pursuing.

This year, the panel recommended changes to bus specifications for new bus purchases, including:

  • A battery shutoff switch to help preserve batteries in the summer during long periods of non-use;
  • Replacing all lights, including headlights, with LEDs if they are available from the original equipment manufacturer;
  • Illuminated school bus signs and stop signs for new buses to help drivers see them from a distance;
  • Heated crossview mirrors to help melt ice and snow in the winter;
  • Change requirements for school bus driver seats to allow for more comfortable seats; and
  • Changes to air conditioner condenser requirements.

The panel is also recommending crossview mirror lighting as an acceptable option from manufacturers that provide it so drivers can see students walking in front of their buses better. Hanley said some manufacturers don’t offer that option, so they couldn’t make it a requirement, but the changes would make it an option for districts.

Hanley said she doesn’t know how much the items will cost because they still need to see which manufacturers offer the options and how much they will charge. Several superintendents on LSAC said they had concerns about the potential costs to local school districts for additional items as well as the rising cost of school buses in general. Hanley said KDE is actively working to ensure Kentucky schools save as much as possible.

“Where we can, we will make our specifications better for our districts,” she said.

When asked about the new features, Hanley said, “I don’t think there’s really anything on here that is not about safety. When it comes to lighting, we’ve had a lot of accidents in the dark, not necessarily just in Kentucky but throughout the country, and we don’t want it to be us.”

The changes would only be in place for new bus purchases, although Hanley said districts can retrofit their current buses with the new features as long as it’s approved by the manufacturer.

In other business, LSAC took action to recommend the KBE:

  • Approve 704 KAR 3:550, setting minimum qualifications for paraprofessionals;
  • Approve changes to 704 KAR 7:140, allowing Vietnam War veterans to receive a high school diploma if they did not complete high school prior to being inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces, similar to how World War II and Korean War veterans can receive a diploma;
  • Approve repealing 780 KAR 2:010, the administration of area technology centers, due to redundant language with KRS 157.808;
  • Approve amendments to various sections of 780 KAR Chapter 3 dealing with administrative rules to conform with KRS 157.808 and update outdated language;
  • Approve amendments to various sections of 780 KAR Chapter 6 to align with KRS 157.808 and current KDE and Kentucky Board of Education policies; and
  • Discussed potential changes to finance officer certification requirements.

The regulations recommended for approval during the LSAC meeting will be up for possible consideration during the KBE meeting on April 9-10. The next LSAC meeting is scheduled for May 28.