Transportation Contracts Preparation and Filing

Q. What do I need to know to enter into a contract for student transportation?

A school district may contract with a private contractor for pupil transportation. Contracts for transportation for "other purposes" should be bid separately from the regular transportation contracts. All contracts for the transportation of pupils during the regular school year and for regular summer programs must be competitively bid, regardless of how small any one contract may be, when school district officials anticipate that the annual aggregate amount to be expended on new contracts will exceed $20,000 for any contracts awarded on or after June 22, 2010, or $10,000 for any contract awarded prior to June 22, 2010. Only partial-year contacts, which begin partway through the school year and cost $20,000 or less for any contracts awarded on or after June 22, 2010, or $10,000 or less for any contract awarded prior to June 22, 2010, may be awarded without competitive bidding. However, partial-year contracts must also be bid when two or more such contracts are anticipated, which in the aggregate exceed $20,000 for any contracts awarded on or after June 22, 2010, or $10,000 for any contract awarded prior to June 22, 2010.

Section 3625(1) of Education Law requires that every transportation contract be submitted to the superintendent of schools for approval before the contract is filed with the State Education Department.

All contracts must be filed with the Educational Management Services Unit for approval not later than 120 calendar days following the first date of service. If the Educational Management Services Unit has not approved a contract, it cannot be aided. Approved contract letters are returned to the school district with the assigned contract number. This contract number should be used on all claim forms submitted for aid.

Section 305(14)(c) of the Education Law authorizes a board of education to reimburse a contractor in excess of the consumer price index (CPI) when extending a transportation contract. Such excess amount shall not be greater than the sum of the actual qualifying criminal history and driver licensing testing fees attributable to special requirements for drivers of school buses pursuant to Article 19 and 19A of Vehicle and traffic Law plus the actual cost of any diagnostic tests and physical performance tests. In addition, the cost of drug and alcohol tests may be included in the excess amount. A board of education, however, has no obligation to the contractor to pay the excess cost unless the board agrees to do so prior to the termination of a contract extension.

Aid for Transportation Contract Expenditures:

Deductions will be made on a contract that is not properly executed until after service has begun, or a contract which is filed with the Educational Management Services Unit more than 120 calendar days after service has begun. The deduction is calculated based on the expenditures for the period prior to the execution of the contract, or on the expenditures in the period between the end of the one hundred twenty-day period and the date of the filing of the contract. Only contract expenditures up to the amount in the contract may be allowed for aid. Any excess expenditures must be deducted in computing transportation expenditures eligible for aid.

Where the contracts contains a provision to do so, the district may provide gasoline for the contractor. In such cases, cost of the gasoline is included in the computation of the above deductions and the gasoline expenditures associated with the contract must be coded in A5540.4 and/or A5581.49 of the ST-3.

A school district that uses computerized bus routing service to establish the routes for a private contractor may include the costs of the computerization in determining aidable expenditures, however, prior approval is required for expenses over $10,000. Computerized bus routing expenditures for a private contractor must be coded in A5540.4 and/or A5581.49 of the ST-3 and claimed on Form F line(s) 125A and/or 125B.

Section 3622-a(6) of the Education Law authorizes the aid for transportation of pupils to and from approved summer school programs operated by a school district in the 2000-01 school year and thereafter.  However, the statewide apportionment may not exceed five million dollars.

Parents as Contractors:

A board of education may contract with parents to transport their own children. Such a contract is subject to the competitive bidding requirements of General Municipal Law, but when the parents transport only their own children, the parent is exempt from Section 156.3 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of education. Also, the parent's vehicle is not subject to a school bus inspection by the Department of Transportation. In addition, a parent may request an exemption from Article 19-A of Vehicle and Traffic Law. An exemption from Article 19-A may be granted for a person operating his or her own vehicle with a seating capacity of 10 or fewer adults, where the only payment made to such person is a mileage fee intended to cover the actual cost of such operation. Exemptions may be requested by contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles at (518) 473-9455 or the Bus Driver Certification Unit, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Empire State Plaza, Swan Street Building, Room 220C, Core 2, Albany, New York 12228.

4408 (July/August Programs for Students with Disabilities) Transportation:

Expenditures for these programs should be recorded in the Special Aid Fund of the ST-3, rather than the General Fund. Since districts are reimbursed for these costs based on individual student claims submitted to the STAC Unit, these expenses should not be included on the State Aid claim forms.

Transportation contract forms are available at: http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/schoolbus/BusinessOfficial/

Last Updated: July 23, 2010