Article 17.

Supporting Services.

Part 1. Transportation.

§ 115C-239.  Authority of local boards of education.

Each local board of education is hereby authorized to acquire, own, lease, contract and operate school buses for the transportation of pupils enrolled in the public schools of such local school administrative unit, and of persons employed in the operation of such schools in accordance with rules and regulations adopted by the State Board of Education under the authority of G.S. 115C-12(17) and within the limitations set forth in G.S. 115C-239 to 115C-246, 115C-248 to 115C-254 and 115C-256 to 115C-259. Boards of education which own and operate school buses for the transportation of pupils shall have authority to establish separate systems of transportation for pupils attending elementary schools and for pupils attending middle schools, junior high schools, or senior high schools. Each such board may operate such buses to and from such of the schools within the local school administrative unit, and in such number, as the board shall from time to time find practicable and appropriate for the safe, orderly and efficient transportation of such pupils and employees to such schools. (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 1; 1973, c. 586, s. 1; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1983, c. 630, s. 2; 2001-97, s. 3.)

 

§ 115C-240.  Authority and duties of State Board of Education.

(a)        The State Board of Education shall promulgate rules and regulations for the operation of a public school transportation system.

(b)        The State Board of Education shall be under no duty to supply transportation to any pupil or employee enrolled or employed in any school. Neither the State nor the State Board of Education shall in any manner be liable for the failure or refusal of any local board of education to furnish transportation, by school bus or otherwise, to any pupil or employee of any school, or for any neglect or action of any county or city board of education, or any employee of any such board, in the operation or maintenance of any school bus.

(c)        The State Board of Education shall from time to time adopt such rules and regulations with reference to the construction, equipment, color, and maintenance of school buses, the number of pupils who may be permitted to ride at the same time upon any bus, and the age and qualifications of drivers of school buses as it shall deem to be desirable for the purpose of promoting safety in the operation of school buses. Every school bus that is capable of operating on diesel fuel shall be capable of operating on diesel fuel with a minimum biodiesel concentration of B-20, as defined in G.S. 143-58.4. No school bus shall be operated for the transportation of pupils unless such bus is constructed and maintained as prescribed in such regulations and is equipped with adequate heating facilities, a standard signaling device for giving due notice that the bus is about to make a turn, an alternating flashing stoplight on the front of the bus, an alternating flashing stoplight on the rear of the bus, and such other warning devices, fire protective equipment and first aid supplies as may be prescribed for installation upon such buses by the regulation of the State Board of Education.

(d)       The State Board of Education shall assist local boards of education by establishing guidelines and a framework through which local boards may establish, review and amend school bus routes prepared pursuant to G.S. 115C-246. The State Board shall also require local boards to implement the Transportation Information Management System or an equivalent system approved by the State Board of Education, no later than September 1, 1992. The State Board of Education shall also assist local boards of education with reference to the acquisition and maintenance of school buses or any other question which may arise in connection with the organization and operation of school bus transportation systems of local boards.

(e)        The State Board of Education shall allocate to the respective local boards of education funds appropriated from time to time by the General Assembly for the purpose of providing transportation to the pupils enrolled in the public schools within this State. Such funds shall be allocated by the State Board of Education in accordance with the number of pupils to be transported, the length of bus routes, road conditions and all other circumstances affecting the cost of the transportation of pupils by school bus to the end that the funds so appropriated may be allocated on a fair and equitable basis, according to the needs of the respective local school administrative units and so as to provide the most efficient use of such funds. Such allocation shall be made by the State Board of Education at the beginning of each fiscal year, except that the State Board may reserve for future allocation from time to time within such fiscal year as the need therefor shall be found to exist, a reasonable amount not to exceed ten percent (10%) of the total funds available for transportation in such fiscal year from such appropriation. If there is evidence of inequitable or inefficient use of funds, the State Board of Education shall be empowered to review school bus routes established by local boards pursuant to G.S. 115C-246 as well as other factors affecting the cost of the transportation of pupils by school bus.

(f)        The respective local boards shall use such funds for the purposes of replacing, maintaining, insuring, and operating public school buses and service vehicles in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 115C-239 to 115C-246, 115C-248 to 115C-254 and 115C-256 to 115C-259 and for no other purpose, but in the making of expenditures for such purposes shall be subject to rules and regulations promulgated by the State Board of Education. (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, p. 2; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1983, c. 630, ss. 3-6; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1066, s. 96(a); 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 900, s. 77(a); 2007-423, s. 1.)

 

§ 115C-241.  Assignment of school buses to schools.

The superintendent of the schools of each local school administrative unit which shall elect to operate a school bus transportation system, shall, prior to the commencement of each regular school year and subject to the approval of the local board of education, allocate and assign to the respective public schools within the jurisdiction of such local school administrative unit the school buses which the local board shall own and direct to be operated during such school year. From time to time during such school year, subject to the directions of the local board of education, the superintendent  may revise such allocation and assignment of school buses in accordance with the changing transportation needs and conditions at the respective schools of such local school administrative unit, and may, pursuant to such revision, assign an additional bus or buses to a school or withdraw a bus or buses from a school in such local school administrative unit. (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 3; 1981, c. 423, s. 1.)

 

§ 115C-242.  Use and operation of school buses.

Public school buses may be used for the following purposes only, and it shall be the duty of the superintendent of the school of each local school administrative unit to supervise the use of all school buses operated by such local school administrative unit so as to assure and require compliance with this section:

(1)        A school bus may be used for the transportation of pupils enrolled in and employees in the operation of the school to which such bus is assigned by the superintendent of the local school administrative unit. Except as otherwise herein provided, such transportation shall be limited to transportation to and from such school for the regularly organized school day, and from and to the points designated by the principal of the school to which such bus is assigned, for the receiving and discharging of passengers. No pupil or employee shall be so transported upon any bus other than the bus to which such pupil or employee has been assigned pursuant to the provisions of this Article: Provided, that children enrolled in a Headstart program or any More at Four program may be transported on public school buses, and any additional costs associated with such contractual arrangements shall be incurred by the benefitting Head Start or More at Four program: Provided further, that children with disabilities may be transported to and from the nearest appropriate private school having a special education program approved by the State Board of Education if the children to be transported are or have been placed in that program by a local school administrative unit as a result of the State or the unit's duty to provide such children with a free appropriate public education.

(2)        In the case of illness or injury requiring immediate medical attention of any pupil or employee while such pupil or employee is present at the school in which such pupil is enrolled or such employee is employed, the principal of such school may, in his discretion, permit such pupil or employee to be transported by a school bus to a doctor or hospital for medical treatment, and may, in his discretion, permit such other person as he may select to accompany such pupil.

(3)        The board of education of any local school administrative unit may operate the school buses of such unit one day prior to the opening of the regular school term for the transportation of pupils and employees to and from the school to which such pupils are assigned or in which they are enrolled and such employees are employed, for the purposes of the registration of students, the organization of classes, the distribution of textbooks, and such other purposes as will, in the opinion of the superintendent of the schools of such unit, promote the efficient organization and operation of such public schools.

(4)        A local board of education which elects to operate a school bus transportation system, shall not be required to provide transportation for any school employee, nor shall such board be required to provide transportation for any pupil living within one and one half miles of the school in which such pupil is enrolled.

(5)        Local boards of education, under rules adopted by the State Board of Education, may permit the use and operation of school buses for the transportation of pupils and instructional personnel as the board deems necessary to serve the instructional programs of the schools. Included in the use permitted by this section is the transportation of children with disabilites, and children enrolled in programs that require transportation from the school grounds during the school day, such as special vocational or occupational programs. On any such trip, a city or county-owned school bus shall not be taken out of the State.

If State funds are inadequate to pay for the transportation approved by the local board of education, local funds may be used for these purposes. Local boards of education shall determine that funds are available to such boards for the transportation of children to and from the school to which they are assigned for the entire school year before authorizing the use and operation of school buses for other services deemed necessary to serve the instructional program of the schools.

Children with disabilities may be transported to and from the nearest appropriate private school having a special education program approved by the State Board of Education if the children to be transported have been placed in that program by a local school administrative unit as a result of the State or the unit's duty to provide those children with a free appropriate public education.

(6)        School buses owned by a local board of education may be used for emergency management purposes in any state of disaster or local state of emergency declared under Chapter 166A of the General Statutes. Under rules and regulations adopted by a local board of education, its school buses may be used with its permission for the purpose of testing emergency management plans; however, neither the State Board of Education nor the local board of education shall be liable for the operating cost, any compensation claims or any tort claims resulting from the test.

(7)        Uses authorized by G.S. 115C-243. (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 4; 1957, c. 1103; 1969, c. 47; 1973, c. 869; 1977, c. 830, ss. 2, 3; 1977, 2nd Sess., c. 1280, s. 2; 1979, c. 885; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1983, c. 630, s. 7; c. 768, s. 8; 1987, c. 827, s. 49; 2006-66, s. 7.18(i); 2006-69, s. 3(g).)

 

§ 115C-243.  Use of school buses by senior citizen groups.

(a)        Any local board of education may enter into agreements with the governing body of any county, city, or town, or with any State agency, or any agency established or identified pursuant to Public Law 89-73, Older Americans Act of 1965, to provide for the use of school buses to provide transportation for the elderly.

(b)        Each agreement entered into under this section must provide the following:

(1)        That the board of education shall be reimbursed in full for the proportionate share of any and all costs, both fixed and variable, of such buses attributable to the uses of the bus pursuant to the agreement.

(2)        That the board of education shall be held harmless from any and all liability by virtue of uses of the buses pursuant to the agreement.

(3)        That adequate liability insurance is maintained under G.S. 115C-42 to insure the board of education, and that adequate insurance is maintained to protect the property of the board of education. The minimum limit of liability insurance shall not be less than the maximum amount of damages which may be awarded under the Tort Claims Act, G.S. 143-291. The costs of said insurance shall be paid by the agency contracting for the use of the bus, either directly or through the fee established by the agreement.

(c)        Before any board of education shall enter into any agreement under this section, it must by resolution establish a policy for use of school buses by the elderly. The policy must give first priority to school uses under G.S. 115C-242 and 115C-42. The resolution must provide for a schedule of charges under this section. Such resolution, if adopted, shall be amended or readopted at least once per year to provide for adjustments to the schedule of charges or to provide for maintaining the same schedule of charges. If the price bid for the service by a private bus carrier is less than the schedule of charges adopted by the board of education, then the board of education may not enter into the agreement.

(d)       No board of education shall be under any duty to sign any agreement under this section.

(e)        No bus operated under the provisions of this section shall travel outside of the area consisting of the county or counties where the local board of education is located and the county or counties contiguous to that county or counties, but not outside of the State of North Carolina.

(f)        Before any agreement under this section may be signed, the State Board of Education shall adopt a uniform schedule of charges for the use of buses under this section. Such schedule shall include a charge by the hour and by the mile which shall cover all costs both fixed and variable, including depreciation, gasoline, fuel, labor, maintenance, and insurance. The schedule may be amended by the State Board of Education. The schedule of charges adopted by the local board of education under subsection (c) may vary from the State schedule only to cover changes in wages. (1977, 2nd Sess., c. 1280, s. 1; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1983, c. 717, s. 92; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 955, ss. 17, 18; 2006-203, s. 32.)

 

§ 115C-244.  Assignment of pupils to school buses.

(a)        The superintendent or superintendent's designee shall assign the pupils and employees who may be transported to and from school upon the bus or buses assigned to each school and shall implement and enforce the plan developed under G.S. 115C-246. No pupil or employee shall be permitted to ride upon any school bus to which such pupil or employee has not been so assigned by the superintendent or superintendent's designee, except by the express direction of the superintendent or superintendent's designee.

(b)        In the event that the superintendent or superintendent's designee assigns a school bus to be used in the transportation of pupils to two or more schools, the superintendent or superintendent's designee shall assign the pupils to be transported to and from each school by that bus, and the principals of the respective schools shall implement and enforce this assignment of pupils.

(c)        Any pupil enrolled in any school, or the parent or guardian of any such pupil, or the person standing in loco parentis to such pupil, may apply to the principal of such school for transportation of such pupil to and from such school by school bus for the regularly organized school day. The principal shall deliver the application to the superintendent or superintendent's designee, who shall assign a pupil to a school bus if the pupil is entitled to school bus transportation under this Article and the rules of the State Board of Education. Such assignment shall be made by the superintendent or superintendent's designee so as to provide for the orderly, safe and efficient transportation of pupils to such school and so as to promote the orderly and efficient administration of the school and the health, safety and general welfare of the pupils to be so transported. Assignments of pupils and employees to school buses may be changed by the superintendent or superintendent's designee as he may from time to time find proper for the safe and efficient transportation of such pupils and employees.

(d)       The parent or guardian of any pupil enrolled in any school, or the person standing in loco parentis to any such pupil, who shall apply under subsection (c) of this section for the transportation of such pupil to and from such school by school bus, may, if such application is denied, or if such pupil is assigned to a school bus not satisfactory to such parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis to such pupil, pursuant to rules and regulations established by the local board of education, apply to such board for such transportation upon a school bus designated in such application, and shall be entitled to a prompt and fair hearing by such board in accordance with the rules and regulations established by it. The majority of such board shall be a quorum for the purpose of holding such hearing and passing upon such application, and the decision of the majority of the members present at such hearing shall be the decision of the board. If, at such hearing, the board shall find that pupil is entitled to be transported to and from such school upon the school bus designated in such application, or if the board shall find that the transportation of such pupil upon such bus to and from such school will be for the best interests of such pupil, will not interfere with the proper administration of such school, or with the safe and efficient transportation by school bus of other pupils enrolled in such school and will not endanger the health or safety of the children there enrolled, the board shall direct that such child be assigned to and transported to such school upon such bus.

(e)        A decision of a local board under subsection (d) is final and, except as provided in this subsection, is subject to judicial review in accordance with Article 4 of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes. A person seeking judicial review shall file a petition in the superior court of the county where the local board made its decision.

(f)        No employee shall be assigned to or permitted to ride upon a school bus when to do so will result in the overcrowding of such bus or will prevent the assignment to such bus of a pupil entitled to ride thereon, or will otherwise, in the opinion of the superintendent or superintendent's designee, be detrimental to the comfort or safety of the pupils assigned to such bus, or to the safe, efficient and proper operation of such bus. (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 5; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1987, c. 827, ss. 47, 48; 1998-220, s. 3.)

 

§ 115C-245.  School bus drivers; monitors; safety assistants.

(a)        Each local board, which elects to operate a school bus transportation system, shall employ the necessary drivers for such school buses. The drivers shall have all qualifications prescribed by the regulations of the State Board of Education herein provided for and must be at least 18 years old and have at least six months driving experience as a licensed operator of a motor vehicle before employment as a regular or substitute driver, but the selection and employment of each driver shall be made by the local board of education, and the driver shall be the employee of such local school administrative unit. Each local board of education shall assign the bus drivers employed by it to the respective schools within the jurisdiction of such board, and the superintendent or superintendent's designee shall assign the drivers to the school buses to be driven by them. No school bus shall at any time be driven or operated by any person other than the bus driver assigned to such bus except by the express direction of the superintendent or superintendent's designee or in accordance with rules and regulations of the appropriate local board of education.

(b)        The driver of a school bus subject to the direction of the superintendent or superintendent's designee shall have complete authority over and responsibility for the operation of the bus and the maintaining of good order and conduct upon such bus, and shall report promptly to the principal any misconduct upon such bus or disregard or violation of the driver's instructions by any person riding upon such bus. The principal may take such action with reference to any such misconduct upon a school bus, or any violation of the instructions of the driver, as he might take if such misconduct or violation had occurred upon the grounds of the school.

(c)        The driver of any school bus shall permit no person to ride upon such bus except pupils or school employees assigned thereto or persons permitted by the express direction of the superintendent or superintendent's designee to ride thereon.

(d)       The superintendent or superintendent's designee may, in his discretion, appoint a monitor for any bus assigned to any school. It shall be the duty of such monitor, subject to the direction of the driver of the bus, to preserve order upon the bus and do such other things as may be appropriate for the safety of the pupils and employees assigned to such bus while boarding such bus, alighting therefrom or being transported thereon, and to require such pupils and employees to conform to the rules and regulations established by the local board of education for the safety of pupils and employees upon school buses. Such monitors shall be unpaid volunteers who shall serve at the pleasure of the superintendent or superintendent's designee.

(e)        A local board of education may, in its discretion within funds available, employ transportation safety assistants upon recommendation of the principal through the superintendent. The safety assistants thus employed shall assist the bus drivers with the safety, movement, management, and care of children boarding the bus, leaving the bus, or being transported in it. The safety assistant should be either an adult or a certified student driver who is available as a substitute bus driver. (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 6; 1979, c. 719, ss. 1-4; 1979, 2nd Sess., c. 1156; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1987, c. 276; 1989, c. 558, s. 2; 1998-220, s. 4.)

 

§ 115C-246.  School bus routes.

(a)        The superintendent of the local school administrative unit shall, prior to the commencement of each regular school year, prepare a plan for a definite route, including stops for receiving and discharging pupils, for each school bus so as to assure the most efficient use of such bus and the safety and convenience of the pupils assigned thereto. The superintendent may, in his discretion, obtain the advice of the State Board of Education with reference to the plan. The buses shall be operated upon the route so established and not otherwise, except as provided in this Article. From time to time the principal may suggest changes in any such bus route as he shall deem proper for the said purposes, and the same shall be effective when approved by the superintendent of the local school administrative unit.

(b)        Unless road or other conditions make it inadvisable, public school buses shall be routed on state-maintained highways, municipal streets, or other streets with publicly dedicated right-of-way. The local board of education shall not be responsible for damage to the roadway. Each public school bus shall be routed so that the bus passes within one mile of the residence of each pupil assigned to that bus. A pupil who lives one and one-half miles or more from the school to which the pupil is assigned shall be eligible for school bus transportation.

(c)        All bus routes when established pursuant to this section shall be filed in the office of the board of education of the local school administrative unit, and all changes made therein shall be filed in the office of such board within 10 days after such change shall become effective.

(d)       Repealed by Session Laws 1985 (Regular Session, 1986), c. 975, s. 24.

(e)        No provision of this Article shall be construed to place upon the State, or upon any county or city, any duty to supply any funds for the transportation of pupils, or any duty to supply funds for the transportation of pupils who live within the corporate limits of the city or town in which is located the public school in which such pupil is enrolled or to which such pupil is assigned, even though transportation to or from such school is furnished to pupils who live outside the limits of such city or town. (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 7; 1959, c. 573, s. 15; 1963, c. 990, ss. 2, 3; 1965, c. 1095, ss. 2, 3; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 975, s. 24; 1987, c. 827, s. 49; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1066, s. 96(b); 2005-151, s. 1.)

 

§ 115C-247.  Purchase of activity buses by local boards.

The several local boards of education in the State are hereby authorized and empowered to take title to school buses purchased with local or community funds for the purpose of transporting pupils to and from athletic events and for other local school activity purposes, and commonly referred to as activity buses.

Each local board of education that operates activity buses shall adopt a policy relative to the proper use of the vehicles. The policy shall permit the use of these buses for travel to athletic events during the regular season and playoffs and for travel to other school-sponsored activities.

The provisions of G.S. 115C-42 shall be fully applicable to the ownership and operation of such activity school buses. Activity buses may also be used as provided in G.S. 115C-243.  (1955, c. 1256; 1957, c. 685; 1959, c. 573, s. 2; 1961, c. 1102, s. 4; 1977, 2nd Sess., c. 1280, s. 3; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 2006-208, s. 1.)

 

§ 115C-248.  Inspection of school buses and activity buses; report of defects by drivers; discontinuing use until defects remedied.

(a)        The superintendent of each local school administrative unit, shall cause each school bus owned or operated by such local school administrative unit to be inspected at least once each 30 days during the school year for mechanical defects, or other defects which may affect the safe operation of such bus. A report of such inspection, together with the recommendations of the person making the inspection, shall be filed promptly in the office of the superintendent of such local school administrative unit, and a copy thereof shall be forwarded to the principal of the school to which such bus is assigned.

(b)        It shall be the duty of the driver of each school bus to report promptly to the principal of the school, to which such bus is assigned, any mechanical defect or other defect which may affect the safe operation of the bus when such defect comes to the attention of the driver, and the principal shall thereupon report such defect to the superintendent of the local school administrative unit. It shall be the duty of the superintendent of the local school administrative unit to cause any and all such defects to be corrected promptly.

(c)        If any school bus is found by the principal of the school, to which it is assigned, or by the superintendent of the local school administrative unit, to be so defective that the bus may not be operated with reasonable safety, it shall be the duty of such principal or superintendent to cause the use of such bus to be discontinued until such defect is remedied, in which event the principal of the school, to which such bus is assigned, may permit the use of a different bus assigned to such school in the transportation of the pupils and employees assigned to the bus found to be defective.

(d)       The superintendent of each local school administrative unit, shall cause each activity bus which is used for the transportation of  students by such local school administrative unit or any public school system therein to be inspected for mechanical defects, or other defects which may affect the safe operation of such activity bus, at the same time and in the same way and manner as the regular public school buses for the normal transportation of public school pupils are inspected. A report of such inspection, together with the recommendations of the person making the inspection, shall be filed with the principal of the school which uses and operates such activity bus and a copy shall be forwarded to the superintendent of the local school administrative unit involved. It shall be the duty of the driver of each activity bus to make the same reports to the principal of the school using and operating such activity bus as is required by this section. If any public school activity bus is found to be so defective that the activity bus may not be operated with reasonable safety, it shall be the duty of such principal to cause the use of such activity bus to be discontinued until such defect is remedied to the satisfaction of the person making the inspection and a report to this effect has been filed in the manner herein prescribed. Nothing in this subsection shall authorize the use of State funds for the purchase, operation or repair of any activity bus. (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 8; 1961, c. 474; 1975, c. 150, s. 2; 1981, c. 423, s. 1.)

 

§ 115C-249.  Purchase and maintenance of school buses, materials and supplies.

(a)       To the extent that the funds shall be made available to it for such purpose, a local board of education is authorized to purchase from time to time such additional school buses and service vehicles or replacements for school buses and service vehicles, as may be deemed by such board to be necessary for the safe and efficient transportation of pupils enrolled in the schools within such local school administrative unit. Any school bus so purchased shall be constructed and equipped as prescribed by the provisions of this Article and by the regulations of the State Board of Education issued pursuant thereto. Any school bus so purchased that is capable of operating on diesel fuel shall be capable of operating on diesel fuel with a minimum biodiesel concentration of B-20, as defined in G.S. 143-58.4. At least two percent (2%) of the total volume of fuel purchased annually by local school districts statewide for use in school bus diesel engine motor vehicles shall be biodiesel fuel of a minimum blend of B-20, to the extent that biodiesel blend is available and compatible with the technology of the vehicles or equipment used.

(b)       The tax-levying authorities of any county are hereby authorized to make provision from time to time in the capital outlay budget of the county for the purchase of such school buses or service vehicles.

(c)       Any funds appropriated from time to time by the General Assembly for the purchase of school buses or service vehicles shall be allocated by the State Board of Education to the respective local boards of education in accordance with the requirements of such boards as determined by the State Board of Education, and thereupon shall be paid over to the respective local boards of education in accordance with such allocation.

(c1)     In determining which school buses in the statewide fleet are to be replaced with State funds in a given year, the State Board of Education shall give highest priority to safety concerns.

A bus is eligible for replacement with State funds based on its age and mileage when it is either 20 years old by model year or has been operated for 250,000 miles, except as follows:

(1)       A bus that has been operated for less than 150,000 miles is not eligible for replacement regardless of its model year.

(2)       A bus that is less than 15 years old by model year is not eligible for replacement until the bus has been operated for 300,000 miles.

(c2)     The State Board of Education may authorize the replacement of up to 30 buses each year due to safety concerns regarding the bus or mechanical or structural problems that would place an undue burden on a local school administrative unit.

(c3)     A local school administrative unit shall receive an incentive payment of two thousand dollars ($2,000) at the beginning of each school year for each bus that it continues to operate although the bus is eligible for replacement, until the bus is 23 years old by model year. The local school administrative unit may use these bonus funds for the additional maintenance costs of operating buses with higher mileage or for any other school purpose.

(d)       The title to any additional or replacement school bus or service vehicle purchased pursuant to the provisions of this section, shall be taken in the name of the board of education of such local school administrative unit, and such bus shall in all respects be maintained and operated pursuant to the provisions of this Article in the same manner as any other public school bus.

(e)       It shall be the duty of the county board of education to provide adequate buildings and equipment for the storage and maintenance of all school buses and service vehicles owned or operated by the board of education of any local school administrative unit in such county. It shall be the duty of the tax-levying authorities of such county to provide in its capital outlay budget for the construction or acquisition of such buildings and equipment as may be required for this purpose.

(f)        In the event of the damage or destruction of any school bus or service vehicle by fire, collision, or otherwise, the board of education of the local school administrative unit which shall own or operate such bus or service vehicle may apply to the State Board of Education for funds with which to replace it. If the State Board of Education finds that such bus or service vehicle has been destroyed or damaged to the extent that it cannot be made suitable for further use, and if the State Board of Education finds that the replacement of such bus or service vehicle is necessary in order to enable such local school administrative unit to operate properly its school bus transportation system, the State Board of Education shall allot to the board of education of such local school administrative unit from the funds now held by the State Board of Education for the replacement of school buses or service vehicles, or from funds hereafter appropriated by the General Assembly for that purpose, a sum sufficient to purchase a new school bus or service vehicle to be used as a replacement for such damaged or destroyed bus or service vehicle and upon such allocation such sum shall be paid over to or for the account of the board of education of such local school administrative unit for such purpose.

(g)       Repealed by Session Laws 2003-147, s. 3, effective for a local school administrative unit when the unit is certified as being E-Procurement compliant, or April 1, 2004, whichever occurs first.

(h)       Appropriations by the General Assembly for the purchase of public school buses shall not revert to the General Fund. Any unexpended portion of those appropriations shall at the end of each fiscal year be transferred to a reserve account and be held, together with any other funds appropriated for the purpose, for the purchase of public school buses.  (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 9; 1961, c. 833, s. 16; 1975, c. 879, s. 46; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1987, c. 827, s. 49; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 1039, s. 24; 2003-147, s. 3; 2004-203, s. 72(b); 2007-423, s. 2; 2013-360, s. 8.11(a).)

 

§ 115C-249.1.  Purchase of tires for school buses; repair or refurbishment of tires for school buses.

(a)       Definitions. - The following terms apply in this section:

(1)       Critical tire information. - Tire brand name, tire line name, tire identification numbers, load and pressure markings, tire size designation, service descriptions such as load and speed ratings, and other information and specifications placed on the original tire sidewall by the original tire manufacturer.

(2)       School bus. - A vehicle as defined in G.S. 20-4.01(27)d3. and G.S. 20-4.01(27)d4. that is owned, rented, or leased by a local board of education.

(b)       Forensic Tire Standards. - In order to preserve critical tire information, a local board of education shall procure and install for school buses only tires that possess the original, unaltered, and uncovered tire sidewall. Furthermore, a local board of education shall not execute a contract for the repair or refurbishment of tires for school buses that provides for the removal, covering, or other alteration in any manner of the critical tire information contained on the original tire sidewall.

(c)       Tire Purchase and Contract Standards Applicability. - All contracts for the purchase, repair, or refurbishment of tires for school buses, or contracts for the purchase of products or services related to the repair or refurbishment of tires for school buses, executed on or after the date this section becomes effective shall comply with the provisions of this section.

(d)       Exemption. - Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, a local board of education that owns or has a legally binding contract in place for the future purchase of tires having altered or covered sidewalls prior to the date that this section becomes effective shall perform its existing contractual obligations related thereto and may continue to use those tires on school buses for the useful life of the retreaded tire.  (2011-145, s. 28.36(b).)

 

§ 115C-250.  Authority to expend funds for transportation of children with disabilities.

(a)        The State Board of Education and local boards of education may expend public funds for transportation of children with disabilities who are unable because of their disability to ride the regular school buses and who have been placed in programs by a local school board as a part of its duty to provide these children with a free appropriate education under Article 9 of this Chapter. At the option of the local board of education with the concurrence of the State Board of Education, funds appropriated to the State Board of Education for contract transportation of children with disabilities may be used to purchase buses and minibuses as well as for the purposes authorized in the budget. The State Board of Education shall adopt rules concerning the construction and equipment of these buses and minibuses.

The Departments of Health and Human Services, Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Correction may also expend public funds for transportation of children with disabilities who are unable because of their disability to ride the regular school buses and who have been placed in programs by one of these agencies as a part of that agency's duty to provide these children with a free appropriate public education under Article 9 of this Chapter.

If a local area mental health center places a child with a disability in an educational program, the local area mental health center shall pay for the transportation of the child who is unable due to the disability to ride the regular school buses to the program.

(b)        Funds appropriated for the transportation of children with disabilities may be used to pay transportation safety assistants employed in accordance with G.S. 115C-245(e) for buses to which children with disabilities are assigned. (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 6; 1973, c. 1351, s. 1; 1975, c. 678, ss. 9, 10; 1977, c. 830, s. 1; 1979, c. 719, ss. 1-4; 1979, 2nd Sess., c. 1156; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; c. 912, s. 1; 1981 (Reg. Sess., 1982), c. 1282, s. 31; 1985, c. 479, s. 26(b); 1987, c. 769; 1997-443, s. 11A.118(a); 1998-202, s. 4(n); 2000-137, s. 4(q); 2006-69, s. 3(h).)

 

§ 115C-251.  Transportation supervisors.

The State Board of Education shall from time to time adopt such rules and regulations with regard to the qualifications of persons employed by local boards of education as chief mechanic or supervisor of transportation as it shall deem necessary or desirable for the purpose of assuring the proper maintenance and safety of school buses. A local board of education shall not employ any person as chief mechanic or supervisor of transportation if that person does  not meet the qualifications established by the State Board. (1977, c.  314; 1981, c. 423, s. 1.)

 

§ 115C-252.  Aid in lieu of transportation.

(a)        When, by reason of road conditions or otherwise, any local board of education, which shall elect to operate a school bus transportation system, shall find it impracticable to furnish to a pupil transportation by school bus to the school in which such pupil is enrolled, or to which such pupil is assigned, the board may assign  such pupil to such other school within such local school administrative unit as the board shall deem advisable, unless the parent or guardian of such pupil or the person standing in loco parentis to such pupil, shall notify the principal of the school, in which such pupil is enrolled or to which such pupil is assigned, of the desire of such pupil to continue to attend such school without the benefit of transportation by school bus.

(b)        In the event that any local board of education, which shall operate a system of school bus transportation, shall find it impracticable to furnish to a pupil such transportation to the school  in which such pupil is enrolled or to which such pupil is assigned, and if, as a result thereof, such pupil shall be required to obtain board and lodging at a place other than the residence of such pupil in order to attend a school, such board may, in its discretion, provide for the payment to the parent or guardian of such pupil of a sum not to exceed fifty dollars ($50.00) per month for each school month that  such pupil shall so obtain board and lodging at a place other than the residence of the pupil for the purpose of attending a school. (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 10; 1973, c. 932; 1981, c. 423, s. 1.)

 

§ 115C-253.  Contracts for transportation.

Any local board of education may, in lieu of the operation by it of public school buses, enter into a contract with any person, firm or corporation for the transportation by such person, firm or corporation of pupils enrolled in the public schools of such local school administrative unit for the same purposes for which such local school administrative unit is authorized by this Article to operate public school buses. Any vehicle used by such person, firm or corporation for the transportation of such pupils shall be constructed and equipped as provided in rules and regulations promulgated by the State Board of Education, and the driver of such vehicle shall possess all of the qualifications prescribed by rules and regulations promulgated by the State Board of Education. Where a contract for transportation of pupils is entered into between a local board of education and any person, firm or corporation which contemplates the use of an automobile or vehicle other than a bus for the transportation of 16 pupils or less, the automobile or vehicle shall not be required to be constructed and equipped as provided for in G.S. 115C-240(c), but shall be constructed and equipped pursuant to rules and regulations promulgated by the State Board of Education. In the event that any local board of education shall enter into such a contract, the board may use for such purposes any funds which it might use for the operation of school buses owned by the board, and the tax-levying authorities of the county or of the city may provide in the county or city budget such additional funds as may be necessary to carry out such contracts. (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 11; 1975, c. 382; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1987, c. 827, ss. 49, 50; 2007-423, s. 3.)

 

§ 115C-254.  Use of school buses by State defense militia or North Carolina National Guard.

When requested to do so by the Governor, the board of education of any local school administrative unit is authorized and directed to furnish a sufficient number of school buses to the North Carolina State Defense Militia or the North Carolina National Guard for the purpose of transporting members of the State defense militia or members of the North Carolina National Guard to and from authorized places of encampment, or to and from places to which members of the State defense militia or members of the North Carolina National Guard are ordered to proceed for the purpose of suppressing riots or insurrections, repelling invasions or dealing with any other emergency. Public school buses so furnished by any local school administrative unit to the State defense militia or the North Carolina National Guard shall be operated by members or employees of the State defense militia or North Carolina National Guard, and all expense of such operation, including any repair or replacement of any bus occasioned by such operation, shall be paid by the State from the appropriations available for the use of the State defense militia or the North Carolina National Guard.  (1955, c. 1372, art. 21, s. 12; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1999-456, s. 33(e); 2009-281, s. 1; 2011-183, s. 77.)

 

§ 115C-255.  Liability insurance and waiver of immunity as to certain acts of bus drivers.

The securing of liability insurance and the waiver of immunity as to certain torts of school bus drivers, school transportation service vehicle drivers and school activity bus drivers, is subject to the provisions of G.S. 115C-42, except when such vehicles are operated with funds from the State Public School Fund. (1981, c. 423, s. 1.)

 

§ 115C-256.  School bus drivers under Workers' Compensation Act.

Awards to school bus drivers under the Workers' Compensation Act shall be made pursuant to the provisions of G.S. 115C-337(b). (1981, c. 423, s. 1.)

 

§ 115C-257.  Attorney General to pay claims.

The Attorney General is hereby authorized to pay reasonable medical expenses, not to exceed three thousand dollars ($3,000), incurred within one year from the date of accident to or for each pupil who sustains bodily injury or death caused by accident, while boarding, riding on, or alighting from a school bus operated by any local school administrative unit. (1955, c. 1372, art. 22, s. 1; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; c. 576, s. 1; 1998-212, s. 9.17(a).)

 

§ 115C-258.  Provisions regarding payment.

The claims authorized herein may be paid, regardless of whether the injury received by the pupil was due to negligence on the part of the school bus driver, the injured pupil, or any other person. To the extent of payments made under this Article, the Attorney General shall be subrogated to the right of the pupil against any third party legally responsible for the injury. Further, any amounts paid shall constitute a credit against any obligation arising under the provisions of the Tort Claims Act. (1955, c. 1372, art. 22, s. 2;  1981, c. 423, s. 1; c. 576, s. 1.)

 

§ 115C-259.  Claims must be filed within one year.

The right to payment as authorized herein shall be forever barred unless a claim be filed with the Attorney General within one year after the accident. (1955, c. 1372, art. 22, s. 3; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; c. 576, s. 1.)

 

§§ 115C-260 through 115C-261: Repealed by Session Laws 1981, c.  576, s. 2.

 

§ 115C-262.  Liability insurance and tort liability.

Liability insurance and tort liability of local boards of education for actions arising out of activities conducted pursuant to this Part, are subject to the provisions of G.S. 115C-42. (1981, c. 423, s. 1.)

 

Part 2. Food Service.

§ 115C-263.  Required provision of services.

As a part of the function of the public school system, local boards of education shall provide to the extent practicable school food services in the schools under their jurisdiction. All school food services made available under this authority shall be provided in accordance with standards and regulations recommended by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and approved by the State Board of Education. (1955, c. 1372, art. 5, s. 34; 1965, c. 912; 1967, c. 990; 1975, c. 384; 1981, c. 423, s. 1.)

 

§ 115C-264.  Operation.

(a)        In the operation of their public school nutrition programs, the public schools shall participate in the National School Lunch Program established by the federal government. The program shall be under the jurisdiction of the Division of School Support, Child Nutrition Services of the Department of Public Instruction and in accordance with federal guidelines as established by the Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.

(b)        For nutritional purposes, the public schools shall not (i) use cooking oils in their school food programs that contain trans-fatty acids or (ii) sell processed foods containing trans-fatty acids that were formed during the commercial processing of the foods.

(c)        All school food services shall be operated on a nonprofit basis, and any earnings therefrom over and above the cost of operation as defined herein shall be used to reduce the cost of food, to serve better food, or to provide free or reduced-price lunches to indigent children and for no other purpose. The term "cost of operation" means the actual cost incurred in the purchase and preparation of food, the salaries of all personnel directly engaged in providing food services, and the cost of nonfood supplies as outlined under standards adopted by the State Board of Education. "Personnel" means child nutrition supervisors or directors, bookkeepers directly engaged in food service record keeping and those persons directly involved in preparing and serving food. Child nutrition personnel shall be paid from the funds of food services only for services rendered in behalf of the child nutrition program. Any cost incurred in the provisions and maintenance of school food services over and beyond the cost of operation shall be included in the budget request filed annually by local boards of education with boards of county commissioners. Public schools are not required to comply with G.S. 115C-522(a) in the purchase of supplies and food for such school food services. (1955, c. 1372, art. 5, s. 34; 1965, c. 912; 1967, c. 990; 1975, c. 384; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 900, s. 78; 2003-147, s. 5; 2004-124, s. 7.29(a); 2004-203, ss. 72(a), (b); 2005-253, s. 1.)

 

§ 115C-264.1.  Preference to high-calcium foods and beverages in purchasing contracts.

(a)        In addition to any requirements established by the United States Department of Agriculture under the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, or other federally supported food service programs, local boards of education shall give preference in purchasing contracts to high-calcium foods and beverages. For purposes of this section, "high-calcium foods and beverages" means foods and beverages that contain a higher level of calcium and that are equal to or lower in price than other products of the same type or quality.

(b)        Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, if a local school board determines that a high-calcium food or beverage would interfere with the proper treatment and care of an individual receiving services from the public school food program, the local school board shall not be required to purchase a high-calcium food or beverage for that individual. A local school board that has entered into a contract with a supplier to purchase food or beverages before the effective date of this section is not required to purchase high-calcium foods or beverages for the duration of that contract if purchasing those products would change the terms of the contract. (2003-257, s. 1.)

 

§ 115C-264.2.  Vending machine sales.

(a)        Each school may, with the approval of the local board of education, sell to students beverages in vending machines during the school day so long as:

(1)        Soft drinks are not sold (i) during the breakfast and lunch periods, (ii) at elementary schools, or (iii) contrary to the requirements of the National School Lunch Program;

(2)        Sugared carbonated soft drinks, including mid-calorie carbonated soft drinks, are not offered for sale in middle schools;

(3)        Not more than fifty percent (50%) of the offerings for sale to students in high schools are sugared carbonated soft drinks;

(4)        Diet carbonated soft drinks are not considered in the same category as sugared carbonated soft drinks; and

(5)        Bottled water products are available in every school that has beverage vending.

(b)        Nothing in subsection (a) of this section prohibits a school from adopting stricter policies with respect to beverage vending.

(c)        Snack vending in all schools shall, by school year 2006-2007, meet the Proficient Level of the NC Eat Smart Nutrition Standards, such that in elementary schools, no snack vending is available to students, and in middle and high schools, seventy-five percent (75%) of snack vending products have not more than 200 calories per portion or snack vending package. (2005-253, s. 2.)

 

§ 115C-264.3.  Child Nutrition Program standards.

The State Board of Education, in direct consultation with a cross section of local directors of child nutrition services, shall establish statewide nutrition standards for school meals, a la carte foods and beverages, and items served in the After School Snack Program administered by the Department of Public Instruction and child nutrition programs of local school administrative units. The nutrition standards will promote gradual changes to increase fruits and vegetables, increase whole grain products, and decrease foods high in total fat, trans fat, saturated fat, and sugar. The nutrition standards adopted by the State Board of Education shall be implemented initially in elementary schools. All elementary schools shall achieve a basic level by the end of the 2009-2010 school year, followed by middle schools and then high schools.  (2005-457, s. 1; 2007-323, s. 7.36A(a); 2008-107, s. 7.25(a).)

 

Part 3. Library/Media Personnel.

§ 115C-265.  Rules and regulations for distribution of library/media personnel funds; employment of personnel.

(a)        The State Board of Education is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations for the distribution of library/media personnel funds, on the basis of average daily membership (ADM), to each local school administrative unit of the State.

(b)        Each local school administrative unit in the State shall employ library/media personnel in accordance with State library/media guidelines approved by the State Board of Education insofar as funds are approved for that purpose by the North Carolina General Assembly. (1977, c. 1088, ss. 2, 3; 1981, c. 423, s. 1.)

 

§§ 115C-266 through 115C-270.  Reserved for future codification purposes.