Two bills awaiting signature by Gov. Pat Quinn have a direct impact on how some transportation contracts are accepted as well as on the safety of high school students on field trips.
HB4029 passed on May 22 amends state law to include all students segments, not just special needs students, when accepting bids from contractors for the purchase of supplies, materials or work. It also allows districts to extend transportation contracts on a year-to-year basis if asked by a contractor.
A Senate amendment restored the ability of school districts to award contracts to private school bus companies that submit the lowest bid. Meanwhile, a House amendment protects school districts from being sued by a school bus contractor for accepting the lowest bid.
"The lowest bid doesn’t always necessarily mean it’s the one (school districts) accept because it depends on student safety as well as other issues," added Cinda Menenghetti, Illinois' state director of student transportation.
Another bill that passed through the legislature on June 8 is SB3487, which allows Multi-Function School Activity Buses to be used for grades nine through 12 on curriculum-related field or event trips. A provision also requires the driver to possess a school bus driver’s permit.
If both bills are signed into law, they will take effect immediately.