By Maggie Thurber | Special to Ohio Watchdog
COLUMBUS — A new law awaiting the governor’s decision may make chartering buses for student out-of-state trips a thing of the past.
The bill, H.B. 437, approved by the Ohio House and Senate and sent to the governor on Wednesday, increases the number of miles that a school district’s board may authorize its motor vehicles to be used for out-of-state travel. The maximum round-trip mileage was increased from 240 miles to 1,000 miles.
The State Board of Education, by administrative rule, provides that any out-of-state travel is calculated “from (the) point of exit from the state to the point of entry in the state,” and any distance traveled in-state does not add to the total of the out-of-state mileage.
If a school district thought an out-of-state trip would exceed the 240-mile round-trip limit, it needed to use chartered commercial carriers.
But with the new law’s total out-of-state distance of up to 1,000 miles, school districts can use their own vehicles for trips to places as far away as Omaha, Neb., Tallahassee, Fla., Minneapolis, Minn., and Providence, R.I.
There is nothing in the bill to indicate if using school transportation is actually cheaper than a chartered carrier, or if students and chaperones would prefer a restroom (found on many chartered buses) for such long trips, but if the governor signs the bill as expected, schools will at least have that option.