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Transportation 101: Providing Transportation to Charter Schools Florida Charter Schools Conference Orlando, November 20, 2008 Presented by Charlie Hood Overview Florida statistics Transportation provisions of s.1002.33 Sec. 1006.21-.27 & applicable statutes Transportation service options

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Transportation 101:

Providing Transportation to Charter Schools

Florida Charter Schools Conference

Orlando, November 20, 2008

Presented by Charlie Hood


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Overview

  • Florida statistics

  • Transportation provisions of s.1002.33

  • Sec. 1006.21-.27 & applicable statutes

  • Transportation service options

  • Transportation safety requirements

  • Safety of school buses, other modes

  • Eligibility of students for transportation


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Overview

  • Transportation funding:

    • Estimating cost of transportation

    • Estimating state reimbursement

    • Claiming state reimbursement

  • Parent reimbursement

  • Auditing and compliance monitoring

  • Additional resources and contacts


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Resources and Contacts

Available at www.FAPTFlorida.org under the Manuals and Publications link


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Florida’s Numbers (2006-07)

  • 1.03 million students transported (38.9% of total enrollment)

  • 15,833 buses in daily service

  • 300 million total miles (284M route miles)

  • $483 million state reimbursement (FEFP)

  • $1.06 billion total expenditures

  • 45% state reimbursement (state average)


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Florida’s Funding 2008-09

  • Student transportation funding now part of overall FEFP appropriation

  • Transportation funding within the appropriation for 2008-09 is $471,068,862 (4% below the original 2007-08 appropriation)

  • Governor has directed agencies to budget 4% less than 2008-09 legislative budget; DOE suggested districts reduce FEFP by 2%.

  • Pending revenue estimates may require further cuts and/or special Legislative session


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Transportation Provisions (s.1002.33)

  • (20) Transportation of charter school students shall be provided by the charter school consistent with the requirements of subpart I.e. of chapter 1006. The governing body of the charter school may provide transportation through an agreement or contract with the district school board, a private provider, or parents. The charter school and the sponsor shall cooperate in making arrangements that ensure that transportation is not a barrier to equal access for all students residing within a reasonable distance of the charter school as determined in its charter.


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Transportation Provisions (s.1002.33)

  • (16) (a) A charter school shall operate in accordance with its charter and shall be exempt from all statutes in chapters 1000-1013. However, a charter school shall be in compliance with the following statutes in chapters 1000-1013:

    5. Those statutes pertaining to student health, safety, and welfare.


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Sections of Law and Rule

  • Sections1006.21-.27, FS- Student Transportation

  • Chapter 6A-3, FAC- Student Transportation

  • Section 1012.32 and 1012.465, FS- Qualifications of Personnel (Criminal Background Checks)

  • Section 1012.45, FS- School Bus Driver Training, Physicals, and Qualifications


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Other Sections of Law and Rule

  • Section 1011.68, FS- Funds for Student Transportation

  • Section 316.172, FS-Traffic to Stop for School Bus

  • Section 316.183, FS-Unlawful Speed (including School Buses)

  • Section 316.6145, FS-School Buses; Safety Belts or Other Restraint Systems Required


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Transportation Service Options

  • Charter school owns and operates school buses

  • School district provides school buses

  • Private contractors provide school buses

  • School or district provides certain smaller vehicles for isolated or disabled students

  • Public transit

  • Parent owned vehicles for isolated or disabled students


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Transportation Safety Requirements(Chapter 1006, F.S. and Chapter 6A-3, FAC)

  • Transportation required 2 miles or more walking distance; maximum 1.5 miles to bus stop

  • Routes must be designated; stops established in most reasonably safe locations

  • School buses required, not full size vans

  • Buses meeting FL specs, inspected each 30 school days



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School Bus Requirements

  • School buses must:

    • meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

    • meet Florida School Bus Specifications

    • be inspected at least each 30 school days by an inspector certified by the Department

    • meet inspection pass/fail criteria per Florida School Bus Safety Inspection Manual

    • be removed from service until deficiencies are corrected


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Safety of Buses and Other Modes

  • School buses much safer than other modes:

    • fatality rate of buses 0.2 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT)

    • cars 1.5 fatalities per 100 million VMT

    • light trucks/vans 1.3 fatalities per 100 million VMT

      Data source: NHTSA


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Safety of Buses vs. Other Modes

  • Per National Academy of Sciences,over 800 school-aged children die each year because they walk, bicycle or ride to-and-from school in a passenger motor vehicle with a parent or friend -- a stark contrast to the six school bus passenger fatalities per year nationwide

  • Conclusion: Students are significantly safer in school buses than walking, bicycling, or riding/driving in private vehicles


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School Bus Occupant Protection

  • All Florida buses have “compartmentalization” (FMVSS 222)

  • NHTSA adopted specs for voluntarily installed 3-point lap/shoulder belts

  • 2001 and later Florida buses have 2-point lap belts to comply with s.316.6145, FS

  • Future buses likely to have three-point lap/shoulder restraints; cost remains issue if students displaced into less safe modes



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Transportation Safety Requirements

  • School bus operators (drivers) must have:

    • 40 hours preservice training

    • 8 hours inservice annually

    • criminal background checks

    • drug and alcohol testing

    • annual physical examination

    • dexterity exam

    • Commercial Driver License (with proper endorsements)

    • driving history checks


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Finding/training Bus Operators

  • Remains biggest challenge faced by districts and charter schools

  • Best practice is to use existing district drivers or trainers, when available

  • Same principle applies to requirement to use certified bus inspectors

  • FDOE can help “broker” training services


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Transportation Safety Requirements

  • Safety training/procedures required from schools for school bus riders:

    • emergency evacuation drills first six weeks of each semester; FAA-style safety and evac instructions at beginning of each field/activity trip

    • transported students must receive instruction in safe riding practices during first six weeks of 1st semester

    • schools must ensure safety of school bus and parent loading/unloading areas and bicyclists/pedestrians


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Eligibility for Transportation

  • All Pre-K to 12 students > 2 miles walking distance

  • Students with disabilities as specified in IEP and consistent with Transportation General Instructions

  • All teen parent program participants

  • Elementary grade hazardous walking


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Reasonable Distance Provision

  • Section 1002.33: “The charter school and the sponsor shall cooperate in making arrangements that ensure that transportation is not a barrier to equal access for all students residing within a reasonable distance of the charter school as determined in its charter.”

  • “Reasonable distance” can be determined based on comparable local practice for similar public schools


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Available at www.fldoe.org/transportation


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Estimating Transportation Cost

  • Determine local school district transportation cost per student

  • Determine charter school transportation cost per student (may be higher)

  • Cost will depend on numerous variables that should be discussed/included prior to signing sponsor agreement


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Estimating Transportation Cost

  • Variables affecting cost include:

    • Lead time to school opening (buses, drivers)

    • Location of school

    • Location of students

    • Opening/closing (bell) times of school

    • Reasonable distance boundary established

    • Special needs of students

    • Mix of grade levels on buses

    • Compatibility with existing routes


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Estimating State Reimbursement

  • Students eligible for transportation funding will generate district’s formula-calculated annual per student reimbursement

  • Same “per student” reimbursement rate, regardless of mode (e.g., parent car, public transit, school bus)

  • State reimbursement rate rarely covers cost

  • Estimating worksheet available from DOE (in Resource Guide)


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Claiming State Reimbursement

  • Riders (bus “enrollment”) surveyed in July, October, February, June (Surveys 1, 2, 3, 4)

  • Students must be eligible for transportation funding (including parent-transported if isolated or disabled)

  • Auditor General requires data collection worksheets, other documentation

  • Funding claims must be submitted by districts and funding is distributed to them


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Funding

  • Starts with annual Legislative Appropriation

  • Distributed per Transportation Funding Formula (Section 1011.68, FS)

  • Claimed via Automated Reporting System

  • Recalculated throughout year as data is updated (from new surveys, district amendments, lately incl. reduced state funds)


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AUDITING GUIDELINES

  • Auditor General audit cycle every three years

  • FDOE compliance monitoring every four years


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AUDITING GUIDELINES

  • 6A-1.04513 Maintaining Auditable FTE Records.Each school district shall maintain documentation adequate to support the full-time equivalent student membership of the district. Such documentation shall include, but is not limited to, all student membership survey forms, all student attendance records, and all student schedule records. These records shall be maintained in auditable condition, shall be made available to the Department for auditing, and shall be kept for a period of three (3) years or until the completion of audit by the Department, whichever period is longer.


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FDOE Compliance Monitoring

  • FDOE monitors districts each four years

  • Self-evaluation completed before on-site visits

  • Includes monitoring of core safety requirements

  • Districts required to monitor charter schools and include in self-eval sample sent to FDOE; on-site monitoring includes charters


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DOE and District Oversight

  • Section 1008.32, F.S.: “The State Board of Education shall oversee the performance of district school boards … in enforcement of all laws and rules.”

  • District sponsors have a duty, in turn, to monitor charter schools [Section 1002.33(5)(b)], incl. requirements for student transportation safety [Section 1002.33(16)(a)]

  • Charter agreement must include plans to ensure the safety of students and staff (Section 1002.33(7)(a)11.).


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FDOE Compliance Monitoring

  • Two most critical items monitored (and most common pitfalls for charter schools) are:

    • Driver licensure, training, and qualifications

    • School bus inspections and safety condition

  • Evacuation drills and loading zone safety reviews also monitored


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AUDITING GUIDELINES

  • Source Documents

    • Bus driver reports of student counts during survey weeks

    • Bus driver signatures on survey reports

    • Checkerboard form is recommended to record transported students


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AUDITING GUIDELINES

  • Attestation

    • Supervisor / Coordinator verifies/attests by signing after driver signs driver survey reports

    • The AG will not look favorably at reports that have erasures, strikethrough words or unauthorized changes to source documents


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Resources and Contacts

  • Charter Schools Transportation Resource Guide

  • The Quality Link: Florida School District Transportation Profiles

  • Florida School Bus Safety Inspection Manual

  • Florida School Bus Specifications

  • Florida Basic School Bus Operator Curriculum


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Resources and Contacts

  • Student Transportation Survey General Instructions

  • www.fldoe.org/transportation

  • www.FAPTFlorida.org

  • FDOE School Transportation office:

    [email protected]

    [email protected]

    (850) 245-9795



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