Public School Transportation National and Regional Perspectives: An Update

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1 Public School Transportation National and Regional Perspectives: An Update Presented to Education Subcommittee C Public School Finance January 2009 Amy Higginbotham Jared Pincin Dr. Tami Gurley-Calvez Dr. Tom Witt Bureau of Business and Economic Research College of Business and Economics West Virginia University

2 Table of Contents I. Current Transportation Funding Policies... 1 A. Basic Statistics... 1 B. Transportation Funding Options Used by States... 1 II. West Virginia s Public School Transportation Funding System... 4 A. Current statistics... 4 B. HB 4588 changes to transportation funding (step 4) Counties affected by changes III. Comparison with Neighboring States A. Kentucky Pupil Transportation Funding State Requirements Local Decision Making Reimbursement Rates B. Maryland Pupil Transportation Funding State Requirements Local Decision Making Reimbursement Rates C. Ohio Pupil Transportation Funding State Requirements Local Decision Making Reimbursement Rates D. Pennsylvania Pupil Transportation Funding State Requirements Local Decision Making Reimbursement Rates E. Virginia Pupil Transportation Funding... 21

3 1. State Requirements Local Decision Making Reimbursement Rates IV. Current Problems Facing West Virginia s School Transportation System A. Substitute School Bus Operator Shortages V. Alternative Policy Options for Addressing Density Adjustments A. Regression Analysis B. Continuous Density Adjustment C. Implementation of a Four Day School Week D. Other Policies to Limit Growth in Transportation Costs Efficiency Frontier or Bonuses for Efficiency Mass Transit/Privatization VI. Appendix A Additional State Transportation Policy Details A. West Virginia Policy Prior to HB State Requirements Local Decision Making Reimbursement Rates B. Kentucky C. Maryland D. Ohio E. Pennsylvania F. Virginia VII. Appendix B Sample of Regression Analysis... 34

4 List of Tables and Figures Figure 1: School Transportation Expenditure Comparison... 5 Figure2: West Virginia Students Transported by School Bus Statistics Table 1: Public School Support Program History of Funds Appropriated (Inflation Adjusted)... 4 Table 2: Public School Transportation Expenditures by County: School Year... 7 Table 3: West Virginia School Bus Operators as a Percentage of Total Service Personnel... 8 Table 4: School Transportation Expenditures: School Year Table 5: Percentage of Transportation Costs for Maintenance, Operation, and Related Costs Exclusive of All Salaries Funded Through Foundation Allowance Table 6: Pennsylvania School Transportation Payment Schedule Table 7: School Bus Operator Qualifications by State Table 8: Kentucky School Transportation Budget Table 9: Maryland School Transportation Budget Table 10: Maryland County by County Transportation Funding: School Year Table 11: Ohio School Transportation Budget Table 12: Pennsylvania School Transportation Budget... 31

5 I. Current Transportation Funding Policies Public funds are used to transport about 82 percent of students in West Virginia s public schools at an average cost per student of $ With one exception, total expenditures on transportation have increased in real terms every school year since Given recent increases in energy costs, there is an increasing need to examine how school transportation is funded including how differences in costs across school districts are addressed. This section provides an overview of basic transportation statistics and describes the main policy approaches used by each state. More detailed information is provided for West Virginia and neighboring states in the following sections. A. Basic Statistics The National Center for Education Statistics reports in the Digest of Education Statistics 2007 that as of the school year approximately 25.2 million (55.3 percent) of students in public schools were transported at public expense. In the same school year the state of West Virginia transported 225,759 students. Nationally, the percentage of public school students transported at the public expense has decreased slowly from its peak of 61.3 percent in , though it is still above the average of 44.8 percent of students in public schools being transported at public expense from The total expenditures for transportation by the fifty states in were over $17.4 billion. In the same school year the state of West Virginia spent $159 million. The average expenditure per student transported as of was $692. In the same school year the average expenditure per student in West Virginia transported was $ This difference of over $12 per student means that West Virginia spent $2.8 million (2 percent) more than if the state had the national average transportation cost per student. The School Transportation News reports that for the school year approximately 474,380 school buses were used in the transportation of school pupils. In the same school year West Virginia used approximately 3,650 buses. The national average was 53 students transported per bus while the number for West Virginia was 62. B. Transportation Funding Options Used by States There exists a variety of regulations across all fifty states concerning the transportation of school age pupils. These differences arise for an assortment of reasons including but not limited to diverse geographical, demographic, and economic constraints, varying philosophical positions about the role of state government in local school decisions, and the gradual metamorphosing of pupil transportation over time. Some states require all resident school pupils K-8 to be transported to and from school activities (Ohio), some states mandate school districts are only required to provide transportation for charter school students (Pennsylvania) 2, some states require school districts to provide transportation to students (public and private) with disabilities but not do not force the school districts to provide pupil transportation for public, private, and 1 Expenditures for transportation in constant dollars has increased every school year from to except for Pennsylvania does provide a transportation subsidy to school districts for the express purpose of transporting pupils K-12 in private, public, and charter schools. Also school districts do not have to provide transportation for charter school pupils carte blanche. See below for details. 1

6 charter schools (Virginia) 3, while other states employ various other pupil transportation methods. According to the School Transportation News, twenty eight states have Share the Ride programs that allow public schools to enter into contracts with non-public schools to transport pupils while some states allow school districts to discriminate against non-public schools by not requiring them to transport non-public pupils even if they opt to transport public school students. 4 Just as there are various ways states determine if or how school districts are required to provide pupil transportation, considerable differences exist in the approaches states employ to finance pupil transportation. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee 5 of Washington state and the Educational Service District 6 of Washington state conducted surveys of the fifty states and identified six ways states allocated funds for pupil transportation. The six methods are summarized below as well as listing which states ascribe to each method. The first method states employ to allocate state funds for pupil transportation is no state funding for pupil transportation. Local school districts are responsible for providing public transportation services. Each state provides basic aid to for K-12 education which may be used for a variety of services but none of these states explicitly provides funds for pupil transportation. Currently there are five states that utilize this method: Massachusetts 7, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The second approach of allocating state funds for pupil transportation is pure block grant funding. Within this method are two separate policies. Some states give school districts block grants separate from their basic educational foundation grant while other states distribute transportation funds within the educational foundation grant. States in the former category include Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, and South Dakota while states in the latter category include Maryland and Michigan. In some cases the state disperses funding based on the school district s total enrollment or the number of pupils it transports, expressed as a proportion of the corresponding number statewide. These lump sum grants are intended to offset transportation costs incurred by school districts while providing the schools districts with options of how the money should be efficiently and equitably spent. The third approach of allocating state funds for pupil transportation is often summarized as the approved costs method. Under this method states provide reimbursement for specific cost items incurred by the transportation programs. The state provides a list of what expenditures are approved and often provides the percentage that each type of expenditure will be reimbursed. Often times the different demographic and geographic differences of each district are incorporated into the state s decision of what is an approved cost and what is not. States that do not adjust the approved costs allocation for wealth are California, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, 3 Virginia Code The report can be found on the state website: 6 The report can be found at ing%20approaches%20for%20pupil%20transportation.pdf 7 While the state of Massachusetts does not provide funds for pupil transportation directly to local school districts, they do provide funding to regional districts to help subsidize regional transportation costs. 2

7 Oregon, West Virginia and Wyoming. States that do adjust the approved costs allocation for wealth are Connecticut and Tennessee. Within this method of funding pupil transportation are two general approaches. The first approach is for a state to reimburse all or a percentage of approved costs. The second approach is for a state to set a maximum expenditure cap for school districts to observe and limit reimbursement up to that cap. This cap is usually based on statewide average costs. The fourth approach of allocating state funds for pupil transportation is the per unit allocation funding. This method provides a fixed amount of funding for a specified (in advance) and measurable unit of service. States have differing ways of establishing the unit reimbursement rate with some states using the total number of pupils transported, the total miles driven, the number of trips per day, etc. Demographic and other site characteristics are accounted for in Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Utah. The states of Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin do not adjust their unit allocation for demographic and other site characteristics. The fifth approach of allocating state funds for pupil transportation is the expected cost approach. States that follow this approach often employ standard multivariate statistical methodology (like multiple regression analysis) in order to establish a set of coefficients (or unit value) for pupil transportation activities and site characteristics (demographic and geographic differences). These coefficients are used to compute for each district the expected cost of transporting pupils under the given site characteristics in the district. The formulas used by each state are different but most of the formulas used are designed to promote certain behaviors that reduce transportation costs while increasing efficiency. States that employ this method are Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oklahoma. Ohio previously used this method. 8 The last approach of allocating state funds for pupil transportation is the efficiency approach. The method is currently used by only one state, North Carolina, and is considerably similar to the expected cost method. The state establishes a minimum expenditure level for each school district based on the number of pupils transported and the number of buses used, called an efficient frontier. This efficient frontier adjusts for site characteristics and each school district receives an allocation based on the distance from the efficient frontier along with a stateestablished buffer. The buffer is designed to capture conditions that are beyond the control of local school districts. 8 Ohio is currently using a different approach to pupil transportation. See details below. 3

8 II. West Virginia s Public School Transportation Funding System A. Current statistics The West Virginia public school transportation system (exclusive of salaries and employee benefits) is funded through step 4 of the West Virginia Public School Support Program. All transportation personnel are funded through step 2 of the funding program. Total funds appropriated through this system since the school year have change dramatically. As shown in Table 1, after factoring in inflation, transportation support for public schools in the state hit a high of $51.8 million for the school year. Service personnel support, which includes allowances for school bus transportation personnel, has declined in real terms since the school year. Table 1: Public School Support Program History of Funds Appropriated (Inflation Adjusted) (Base Year = 2006) Professional Educators $812,363,032 $887,147,669 $825,347,837 $870,619,271 $825,727,243 $793,945,358 Service Personnel $287,516,583 $320,877,538 $282,084,207 $268,568,620 $271,454,477 $259,242,494 Fixed Charges $119,935,663 $129,983,511 $93,024,291 $100,932,052 $98,965,792 $98,367,745 Transportation Support $45,564,255 $48,041,791 $39,380,166 $40,211,334 $40,971,877 $51,792,029 Administrative costs $5,686,539 $6,210,008 $4,968,174 $4,212,468 $3,590,545 $3,088,910 Current Expense $71,488,476 $78,521,639 $133,861,320 $127,353,809 $136,153,319 $135,650,057 Improve Instr. Programs - $51,768,587 $46,207,112 $41,786,225 $37,563,900 $33,000,000 Total Basic Support $1,342,554,549 $1,522,550,743 $1,424,873,107 $1,453,683,778 $1,414,427,153 $1,375,086,593 Source: West Virginia Department of Education Office of School Finance The amount funded by the Public School Support Program only accounts for a part of the actual expenditures made for public school transportation. The total expenditures, like the amounts appropriated, have changed over time. In examining the school transportation expenditures from the school year to the school year (Figure 1), it is apparent that salaries have been the largest expenditure for West Virginia. Salary expenditures have, however, fallen from 52.0% of total transportation expenditures to 45.9% by the school year. The second highest expenditure has been employee benefits, which include payments made by the state for health care and retirement as well as worker s compensation. Vehicle supply expenditures increased over this time period to 14.4% of total transportation expenditures. Also contract transportation became an expenditure category in the school year accounting for $3,152,834. The most stable expenditures from the school year to the school year have been expenditures for the following: maintenance, utilities, and equipment; insurance; and bus replacement. 4

9 Figure 1: School Transportation Expenditure Comparison 5

10 West Virginia s total public school transportation expenditures for the school year were $199,733,456. This total expenditure was the combination of expenditures made in all fifty-five of the state s counties. Public school transportation expenditures in West Virginia counties, however, vary greatly. As shown in Table 2, in the school year transportation total expenditures were between $831,984 in Gilmer County to $13,425,026 in Kanawha County. All fifty-five counties had salary, employee benefit and vehicle supply expenses for the school year 9. The highest level of salary expenditures occurred in Kanawha County, who spent $5,674,208 to employ 154 FTE school bus operators and nine other transportation employees. Consequently, Kanawha also had the highest level of employee benefit expenditures. Five counties (Harrison, Pleasants, Summers, Tucker, and Wayne) reported zero contract transportation expenditures for the school year. For the school year, the salary and employee benefits expenditures supported 2,814.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) school bus operator positions in the state. As Table 3 indicates, the FTE school bus operators accounted for 20.7 percent of total public school service personnel. The newest data indicates that for the school year, the number of school bus operators increased in the state to 2, FTE. However, this increase in school bus operators does not result in a large increase in percent of total public school service personnel. For the school year, the highest percentage of school bus operators to total service personnel were found in the more rural counties in the state, such as Tyler, Roane, and Pendleton counties. Kanawha County, who had the largest school transportation salary and employee benefit expenditures in , had the lowest number of school bus operators as a percentage of total service personnel for both the and school years. In comparison to the rest of the nation, West Virginia has a high concentration of school bus operators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), West Virginia was one of the top five states with the highest concentration of school bus operators in May Nationally, BLS estimated that 461,590 school bus operators were employed with 3,570 of those being employed in West Virginia. This amount of school bus operators accounted for the fifth highest concentration in the nation at percent of total state employment. The average age of school bus operators in West Virginia is 50 with average experience of approximately 12 years. These statistics fall in line with national averages. According to a national survey of school bus operators conducted by School Bus Fleet magazine, 36 percent of school bus drivers are in the 41 to 50 year old age bracket. Twenty eight percent were between the ages of 51 and 60 while only 22 percent were between 18 and 40 years old County transportation expenditure category totals vary for all counties due to the way each county codes their expenditures. Also, for bus replacement expenditures, it can be noted that some counties in West Virginia do not purchase buses each year, but schedule their purchases every other year. 10 Source: Respect Trust: Key Issues for Drivers. (March, 2007). School Bus Fleet:

11 Table 2: Public School Transportation Expenditures by County School Year Maintenance, Employee Utilities & Vehicle Bus Contract County Salaries Benefits Equipment Insurance Supplies Replacement Transportation Other Total Barbour $ 860,502 $ 411,841 $ 57,529 $ 96,500 $ 316,435 $ 144,352 $ 10,576 $ 52,852 $ 1,950,587 Berkeley 5,132,337 2,374,755 81, ,460 1,493,296 1,292, , ,168 11,834,493 Boone 1,601, ,786 44,745 60, , ,248 96,283 20,775 3,458,837 Braxton 871, ,147 18,783 80, , ,326 85,019 8,850 1,974,149 Brooke 907, ,825 58, , , ,749 10,912 7,345 2,148,107 Cabell 3,416,653 1,688, , ,841 1,005, , ,501 76,922 7,301,029 Calhoun 562, ,193 13,338 59, ,770 67,387 34,899 3,089 1,197,653 Clay 897, ,807 23,784 71, , , ,779 9,950 2,138,108 Doddridge 592, ,134 65,859 46, , ,645 2,597 10,090 1,352,220 Fayette 2,272,942 1,113,879 94, , , ,385 6,700 60,640 5,010,060 Gilmer 407, ,959 13,681 33, ,521 65,273 1,051 12, ,984 Grant 612, ,073 7, , , ,863 24,474 11,954 1,422,492 Greenbrier 1,930,420 1,001,450 42,769 74, , ,456 14,143 21,592 4,039,967 Hampshire 1,380, , , , ,841-11,207 29,053 3,047,941 Hancock 1,443, ,565 58,932 91, , ,265 15,236 62,156 2,998,945 Hardy 753, ,948 85, , , ,273 25,868 12,649 1,664,801 Harrison 3,478,414 1,706, , , , ,341-41,124 6,719,105 Jackson 1,830, ,807 44, , , ,175 17,583 27,279 3,753,577 Jefferson 2,694,665 1,141,268 81, , , ,859 3,950 38,142 6,004,111 Kanawha 5,674,208 2,761, , ,000 1,393,903 1,900, ,167 69,517 13,425,026 Lewis 1,134, ,281 17,281 90, , ,385 3,950 5,580 2,319,593 Lincoln 1,508, ,731 24, , , ,601 28,910 28,143 3,356,437 Logan 2,046,445 1,270, , , , ,477 26,173 59,642 4,937,122 Marion 2,453,441 1,088,723 70, ,000 1,005, ,140 1,093 37,645 5,312,583 Marshall 2,222,789 1,095,483 89, , , ,220 1,140 40,627 4,507,508 Mason 1,744, ,532 17, , , ,905 2,460 16,255 3,522,958 McDowell 1,741, ,943 53, , , ,074 1,900 12,283 3,818,733 Mercer 2,652,935 1,346,820 87, , , ,459 42,737 33,188 5,679,933 Mineral 1,747, ,040 71, , , ,975 16,116 42,038 3,945,520 Mingo 1,500, ,747 22, , , ,234 19,649 8,129 3,422,537 Monongalia 3,039,532 1,326,503 46, ,449 1,298, , , ,727 6,797,742 Monroe 950, ,046 2, , , ,045 1,784,016 Morgan 955, ,393 32, , , ,580 8,342 96,072 2,108,900 Nicholas 1,674, ,761 46, , , , ,403 9,462 3,899,476 Ohio 1,543, ,091 72,212 82, , ,560 31,452 29,253 3,197,248 Pendleton 554, ,774 11,149 70, , ,158 35,999 10,232 1,217,341 Pleasants 639, ,948 30,867 40, , ,090-16,484 1,264,962 Pocahontas 644, ,221 8,292 79, , ,475 3,781 14,612 1,382,225 Preston 1,768, ,927 31,562 66, , ,450 3,218 21,265 3,751,818 Putnam 2,728,197 1,219,833 66, , , ,055 80,562 16,649 5,824,603 Raleigh 4,450,689 1,870, , ,951 1,519, ,044 74, ,942 9,463,955 Randolph 1,247, ,417 32, , , ,369 2,511,046 Ritchie 608, ,871 8,464 69, , ,890 23,095 27,259 1,355,755 Roane 1,145, ,787 43,262 75, , ,804 67,672 17,018 2,525,173 Summers 681, ,805 13,693 28, , ,990-18,269 1,382,157 Taylor 900, ,294 14,853 60, , , ,065 1,889,808 Tucker 377, ,547 13,932 67, , ,821-10, ,698 Tyler 846, ,888 49,476 59, , ,008 3,025 24,267 1,858,366 Upshur 1,357, ,271 32, , , ,765 3,636 26,051 3,007,493 Wayne 2,465, ,340 38, ,104 1,153, ,946-37,648 5,589,512 Webster 694, ,625 15, , , ,920 58,666 10,148 1,679,685 Wetzel 1,068, ,073 6,677 60, , ,983 3,569 38,468 2,192,696 Wirt 417, ,819 18,360 30,722 96, ,324 4,901 3, ,406 Wood 3,188,038 1,490,139 52, ,182 1,177, ,476 54, ,376 6,944,109 Wyoming 1,416, ,122-88, , ,275 2,777 8,282 3,115,151 Total $ 91,434,077 $ 43,577,210 $ 3,115,797 $ 8,668,565 $ 28,732,735 $ 18,819,648 $ 3,152,834 $ 2,232,590 $ 199,733,456 Source: West Virginia Department of Education 7

12 Table 3: West Virginia School Bus Operators as a Percentage of Total Service Personnel Percentage Rank (High to Low) Barbour Berkeley Boone Braxton Brooke Cabell Calhoun Clay Doddridge Fayette Gilmer Grant Greenbrier Hampshire Hancock Hardy Harrison Jackson Jefferson Kanawha Lewis Lincoln Logan Marion Marshall Mason Mercer Mineral Mingo Monongalia Monroe Morgan McDowell Nicholas Ohio Pendleton Pleasants Pocahontas Preston Putnam Raleigh Randolph Ritchie Roane Summers Taylor Tucker Tyler Upsher Wayne Webster Wetzel Wirt Wood Wyoming Source: West Virginia Department of Education 8

13 As shown in Table 4, the total public school transportation expenditures resulted in 42,481,687 total miles traveled for West Virginia schools during the school year. The counties with the most total miles, which include regular, vocational, extra-curricular, and curricular travel, were Kanawha with 13,425,026 miles and Berkeley with 11,834,493 miles. These two counties, however, do not have the largest area in square foot. Instead their school bus miles are attributable to the total number of students being transported. For the school year, Berkeley and Kanawha had the highest number of students being transported by bus. In terms of school transportation costs per pupil transported, the amount varied from $ in Kanawha County to $1, in Tyler County. Along the 42,481,687 miles, school bus accidents have occurred. In fact, for 2006 West Virginia school buses were involved in 215 accidents. Of these 215 accidents, 75 injuries and one fatality occurred. In comparison with the surrounding states, West Virginia school buses had the lowest number of accidents. Both Kentucky and Virginia had slightly over 800 school bus related traffic accidents each with 250 to 300 injuries. Pennsylvania school buses were involved in 523 accidents which resulted in 798 injuries and 13 fatalities. For the nation, on average, school transportation accidents account for 140 fatalities per year. As the number of miles traveled by school bus varies from county to county so did the number of students transported by school bus. As Figure 2 shows, the number of students transported by bus per bus operator during the school year ranged from in Kanawha to in Summers. The number of students transported per square mile ranged from in Hancock to only 1.19 in Pocahontas. Thirty-seven of the state s 55 counties transported less than 10 students per square mile during the school year. Large mountainous counties, such as Greenbrier, Randolph, Pendleton, and Pocahontas, transported less than four students per square mile. 9

14 Table 4: School Transportation Expenditures School Year Transportation Total Miles Cost Per Pupils Cost Per County Expenditures Traveled Mile Transported Pupil Barbour $ 1,950, ,157 $ ,428 $ Berkeley 11,834,493 2,338, , Boone 3,458, , , Braxton 1,974, , , Brooke 2,148, , , Cabell 7,301,029 1,352, , Calhoun 1,197, , ,035 1, Clay 2,138, , ,018 1, Doddridge 1,352, , ,137 1, Fayette 5,010,060 1,138, , Gilmer 831, , , Grant 1,422, , , Greenbrier 4,039, , , Hampshire 3,047, , , Hancock 2,998, , , Hardy 1,664, , , Harrison 6,719,105 1,132, , Jackson 3,753, , , Jefferson 6,004,111 1,268, , Kanawha 13,425,026 3,023, , Lewis 2,319, , ,074 1, Lincoln 3,356, , ,247 1, Logan 4,937, , ,594 1, Marion 5,312, , , Marshall 4,507, , ,087 1, Mason 3,522, , , McDowell 3,818, , ,446 1, Mercer 5,679,933 1,326, , Mineral 3,945, , ,621 1, Mingo 3,422, , , Monongalia 6,797,742 1,616, , Monroe 1,784, , ,762 1, Morgan 2,108, , , Nicholas 3,899, , ,077 1, Ohio 3,197, , , Pendleton 1,217, , ,053 1, Pleasants 1,264, , ,169 1, Pocahontas 1,382, , ,123 1, Preston 3,751, , , Putnam 5,824,603 1,063, , Raleigh 9,463,955 1,837, ,229 1, Randolph 2,511, , , Ritchie 1,355, , ,267 1, Roane 2,525, , ,333 1, Summers 1,382, , ,320 1, Taylor 1,889, , , Tucker 954, , , Tyler 1,858, , ,451 1, Upshur 3,007, , , Wayne 5,589,512 1,252, , Webster 1,679, , ,370 1, Wetzel 2,192, , , Wirt 939, , , Wood 6,944,109 1,559, , Wyoming 3,115, , , Total $ 199,733,456 42,481,687 $ ,719 $ Source: West Virginia Department of Education Office of School Finance 10

15 Figure 2: West Virginia Students Transported by School Bus Statistics Number of Students Transported Per Bus Operator School Year Kanawha Wood Putnam Hancock Ohio Cabell Brooke Berkeley Boone Monroe Wayne Jefferson Clay Wyoming Harrison Fayette Mineral Wetzel Raleigh Grant Monongalia Barbour Logan Tucker Marion Jackson Lincoln McDowell Upsher Mason Pleasants Taylor Wirt Hardy Mingo Webster Hampshire Mercer Braxton Marshall Preston Calhoun Randolph Greenbrier Gilmer Ritchie Lewis Roane Nicholas Tyler Doddridge Pendleton Morgan Pocahontas Summers Number of Students Transported Per Square Mile School Year Hancock Berkeley Cabell Ohio Jefferson Brooke Wood Putnam Kanawha Monroe Harrison Marion Mineral Raleigh Marshall Taylor Wayne Mingo Logan McDowell Upsher Fayette Boone Mason Monongalia Pleasants Jackson Lincoln Wyoming Barbour Wetzel Mercer Preston Clay Tyler Hampshire Lewis Roane Nicholas Greenbrier Braxton Grant Morgan Calhoun Wirt Summers Doddridge Hardy Ritchie Randolph Tucker Webster Gilmer Pendleton Pocahontas 11

16 B. HB 4588 changes to transportation funding (step 4) During the 2008 regular session of the West Virginia Legislature, HB4588 was passed dramatically altering the current Public School Support System 11 in the state. This bill, which went into effect on July 1, 2008, included the following: Made major changes to the Public School Support Program and phase-in changes over a five-year time period Eliminated adjusted enrollment limits and bases calculations in the first two steps of the funding formula on net enrollments only Divided districts into four groups based on student density per square mile: o Sparse-density county = less than five per square mile o Low-density county = greater than or equal to five but less than ten o Medium-density county = greater than or equal to ten but less than twenty o High-density county = greater than or equal to twenty Set net enrollment funding limits for professional educators and service personnel allowed to be funded and the minimum required limit for professional instructional personnel and bases personnel funded on these limits For districts with net enrollment of less than 1,400, increased the net enrollment by an amount determined by a formula Excluded school counselors and nurses from definition of professional educators and identified them as professional student support personnel Based the allowance for fixed charges (step 3) on the allowances for professional educators, service personnel and administrative costs Continued the allowance for other current expenses to be at 10 percent of allowances for professional educators and service personnel Provided for allowance for advanced placement programs at 1 percent of the state average per pupil aid times the number of students enrolled Provided the West Virginia Department of Education to have funds that would be used for funding support for high acuity needs that exceed the capacity of county boards to provide and required Superintendent to review annual state and federal laws, rules, policies and standards for serving needs of exceptional children enrolled in public schools And numerous other modifications to the Public School Support System This legislation made significant modifications to the foundation allowance for transportation cost ( 18-9A-7). The total allowance for each county, as laid out in West Virginia Code, is determined by the costs incurred for maintenance, operation, and related transportation costs (exclusive of all salaries), insurance costs, current replacement value of the bus fleet, and aid in lieu of transportation. The percentage of transportation costs incurred by each county for maintenance, operation and related costs exclusive of all salaries that are funded are determined by the following student density categories: 11 The Public School Support Program prior to the passage of HB 4588 is described in detail in the Appendix. 12

17 Sparse-density counties 95 percent Low-density counties 92.5 percent Medium-density counties 90 percent High-density counties 87.5 percent The percentage funded for transporting students to and from classes at a multi-county vocational center or using an alternative fuel such as compressed natural gas or other acceptable alternative fuel is the percent provided from density category plus an additional ten percent. The total foundation allowance for transportation also includes the following: total cost of insurance premiums on buses, buildings and equipment used in transportation; an amount equal to 8.33% of the current replacement value of the bus fleet; and aid in lieu of transportation equal to the state average amount per pupil for each pupil receiving aid within each county. 1. Counties affected by changes Prior to HB 4588, school transportation funding (step 4) was based on only two student density categories. Low density counties were counties whose student enrollment per square mile was less than the state average. Those counties determined to be low density counties received 90 % of transportation costs incurred for maintenance, operation, and related costs exclusive of all salaries. High density counties were counties whose student enrollment per square mile was more than the state average. Those counties determined to be high density counties received 85% of transportation costs incurred for maintenance, operation, and related costs exclusive of all salaries. In comparing the old school transportation funding option for costs incurred for maintenance, operation and related costs exclusive of all salaries to the allowance options in HB 4588 for the school year, there is an increase in funding for approximately 50 of the 55 counties. The only counties estimated not to change allowance percentages would be low density counties in the old system and medium density counties under HB These counties are estimated to be: Fayette, Jackson, Mason, Mineral, and Upshur. As shown in Table 5, using projected headcount enrollments for the school year 12, the old school transportation funding would have made 90% allowance for 35 counties leaving 20 receiving an 85% allowance. Under HB 4588, all of West Virginia s counties would receive foundation allowances above 85% with 29 counties receiving allowances above 90 %. The average increase in transportation allowance for West Virginia counties with the implementation of HB 4588 is estimated to be 3.2% for the school year. Further increases in allowances for transportation will be issued to counties running buses for students taking courses at multicounty vocational centers and to those counties using alternative fuels. 12 Projected headcount enrollments were calculated by the West Virginia Department of Education Office of School Finance. Actual second-month headcount enrollment counts for all West Virginia counties will not be available until November

18 Table 5 : Percentage of Transportation Costs For Maintenance, Operation and Related Costs Exclusive of All Salaries Funded Through Foundation Allowance School Year Projected Headcount Enrollment Prior to HB 4558 % Category HB 4558 % Category Barbour 2,554 90% 92.5% 2.5% Berkeley 17, Boone 4, Braxton 2, Brooke 3, Cabell 12, Calhoun 1, Clay 1, Doddridge 1, Fayette 6, Gilmer Grant 1, Greenbrier 5, Hampshire 3, Hancock 4, Hardy 2, Harrison 11, Jackson 5, Jefferson 8, Kanawha 28, Lewis 2, Lincoln 3, Logan 6, Marion 8, Marshall 4, Mason 4, Mercer 9, Mineral 4, Mingo 4, Monongalia 10, Monroe 2, Morgan 2, McDowell 3, Nicholas 4, Ohio 5, Pendleton 1, Pleasants 1, Pocahontas 1, Preston 4, Putnam 9, Raleigh 12, Randolph 4, Ritchie 1, Roane 2, Summers 1, Taylor 2, Tucker 1, Tyler 1, Upshur 3, Wayne 7, Webster 1, Wetzel 2, Wirt 1, Wood 13, Wyoming 4, Increased % Note: Calculations are based on student enrollment only. Does not included calculations for transportation costs for multi-county vocational center or alternative fuel usage. 14

19 III. Comparison with Neighboring States A. Kentucky Pupil Transportation Funding The School Transportation News reports that as of the school year 68 percent of public school students were transported at public expense at an average transportation cost per pupil of $ The percent school transportation cost of total annual K-12 expenditure was 6.1. Over 9,700 district-owned school buses were used in the transporting of pupils. 1. State Requirements Kentucky law 13 states that boards of education may, but are not required to, provide transportation from their general funds or otherwise for any pupil of any grade to the nearest school to the pupil s residence within the district if the pupil does not live within a reasonable walking distance 14 to such nearest school of appropriate grade level. If space is not available at the nearest school of appropriate grade level, boards of education may provide transportation from their general funds for any pupil of any grade who does not live within a reasonable walking distance to the nearest school of appropriate grade level where space is available. 2. Local Decision Making Boards of education may use district-owned and operated transportation systems, local government mass transit systems, contracted pupil transportation system, and supplemental contracts with private transportation services. The board of directors of a school district are also required by state law to have a policy on responsibilities of pupils who are transported in district vehicles, including but not limited to route planning, school bus stop placement, and the maximum amount of time a pupil may be ride the school bus. 3. Reimbursement Rates Kentucky follows the expected cost method of pupil transportation reimbursement. In particular, local school districts in Kentucky are reimbursed from the fund to Support Educational Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) for transportation costs. The funding is based on a cost/density formula. The number of pupils transported per square mile served and the actual cost are the basis for determining transportation allocations. The transportation formula aims to provide funding for school districts providing transportation to students who live one mile or more from school on the basis of what the average cost of providing pupil transportation for students living one or more miles from school in school districts with similar transported pupil density. If a local school district s actual cost per pupil is less than predicted cost the district receives a bonus. If a local school district s actual cost per pupil is more than predicted cost the district is required to provide more local funds. 13 Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter dictates pupil transportation policy. 14 Pupils who reside one or more miles from school and where safety conditions are not in school are eligible for pupil transportation If traffic or other safety conditions make walking to school extremely hazardous, no matter the distance from the nearest school of appropriate grade level, the transportation director of the local school district may arrange for transportation for such students. 15

20 Two calculations are made for each school year to determine each school district s allotment for pupil transportation. The first calculation provides specific information concerning the method by which each district s formula adjusted transportation cost is determined. The second calculation shows each district s projection for growth in students who live one or more miles from school and the final calculated pupil transportation costs. Factors that affect the funding formula are as follows: transporting expenditures, reimbursements for the cost of transportation other than the SEEK allotment (whether local, state, or federal), density (the average daily number of pupils transported divided by the square miles served in each school district), and bus depreciation. The amount added to a district s transportation program cost for vehicle depreciation is 12 percent of the state bid price for vehicles aged 1 to 2 years, 10 percent for those aged 3 to 8 years, 8 percent for those aged 9 or 10 years and 6 percent for those aged 11 to 14 years. The Pupil Transportation Tentative Funding Calculation for for Kentucky counties uses a spreadsheet to determine pupil transportation funding for each county. Criteria used in the calculation include net square miles in the district, gross average daily attendance, handicapped factor, net transported pupil density per square mile, and depreciation. In regards to density adjustment, school districts are compared to other school districts of similar densities and funding is adjusted accordingly. A school district transporting twenty pupils per square mile is not directly compared to a school district transporting five students per square mile. Instead, a school district transporting twenty pupils per square mile is compared to all other school districts transporting twenty students per square mile. If a school district s transportation costs are higher than the average transportation costs of the density group they are in the school district is penalized by not receiving additional funds above the state average for their density group (the additional money must be made up by local funds). If the school district s transportation costs are below the average transportation costs of the density group they are in the school district is rewarded with a bonus. This system creates downward pressure on each school district to restrict transportation costs. B. Maryland Pupil Transportation Funding The Maryland State Department of Education Fact Book of reports that as of the school year over 605,000 pupils were eligible for school transportation for the 24 public school districts throughout the state. This number includes over 24,000 students who are disabled. 15 In all, 71 percent of public school students were transported at public expense. The total expenditure for pupil transportation in the school year was $497,316,742 with only $187,123,542 (37.6%) being provided through state aid. The average expenditure per pupil on transportation as of the school year was $822. The total number of publicly-owned vehicles used in transporting students was over 3,700 while the number of contracted vehicles used in transporting students was over 3,300. The total number of miles traveled was 121,209,195 with more than half of those miles being used to transport students who are disabled. 15 The number of disabled pupils eligible for pupil transportation includes disabled students in nonpublic schools as of

21 1. State Requirements Maryland law 16 stipulates that at its own expense a county governing body may, but are not required to, provide transportation for public school students in addition to the transportation provided by the state. A school bus may be used to transport any student who lives within the mileage limit set by the local board of education if the school bus is not already filled to capacity, no additional bus stops are added to the route, and the local transportation officer has identified a specific existing hardship that justifies the student to be transported. Maryland provides funds from the general budget to each school district for pupil transportation through the means of block grants. If the amount budgeted to a county is more than the actual cost of providing student transportation services in the county, the county board may apply any excess funds to costs of pupil transportation services in subsequent years. The additional funds may not be transferred to any other category. 2. Local Decision Making The board of directors of a school district is involved in the transportation program including but not limited to the decision of bus stop locations, the actual routing and planning of school bus routes, the mileage limits of pupil transportation, and the maximum time a student may ride the school bus. Maryland state law stipulates that at its own expense a county governing body may provide transportation for public school students in addition to the transportation provided by the state. 3. Reimbursement Rates The transportation grant for each county is equal to the amount of the county s base grant for student transportation for the previous year allowing for increases in costs and student population. Specifically, the grant is increased by the same percentage as the increase in the private transportation category of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all urban consumers in the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area as of July of the fiscal year preceding the year for which the amount is being calculated. The CPI increase may not be less than 3 percent nor more than 8 percent of the amount of the grant for the previous year. 17 Additionally, an adjustment is made for increased enrollment and based on the portion of increased state enrollment attributable to each school district. Districts with zero or negative growth receive an adjustment of zero. C. Ohio Pupil Transportation Funding The School Transportation News reports that as of the school year 70 percent of public school students were transported at public expense at an average transportation cost per pupil of $ The percent school transportation cost of total annual K-12 expenditure was 4.6. Over 17,800 districts owned school buses and over 1,000 contractor owned buses were used in the transporting of pupils. 16 Annotated Code of Maryland Education Article Title 7 Subtitle The base year for increases is

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