Ward Proposes Cost-Saving Waiver for School Transportation Mandate

Harrisburg – State Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) today announced legislation that would provide school districts with the flexibility to avoid a costly transportation mandate.

Senate Bill 1507, the Busing Efficiency Act of 2012, would allow districts to apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for a waiver from the mandate that they provide for transportation of every child in the district to public or non-public school.

The Greater Latrobe School District asked for the mandate relief since its average student ridership is only 35 percent of bus capacity. The majority of high school students drive to school and many times only a handful of students are riding a bus that costs approximately $48,000 per school year to operate.

The law will give the district the ability to have  parental signoff indicating their child will not be utilizing the bus for the school year, allowing the district to significantly reduce its transportation costs and save taxpayer dollars.

“At a time of tight budgets at every level of government, the notion of taxpayer-funded school buses riding around more than half empty is unacceptable,” said Ward. “This commonsense mandate relief will provide districts with the flexibility to spend taxpayer dollars in a way that makes sense, while continuing to provide transportation to every student who needs it.”

In order for school entities to be eligible for the waiver, they must apply to PDE with information detailing that the waiver will allow them to operate in a more efficient manner.

Greater Latrobe Superintendent Judith Swigart expressed her support of the senator’s legislation:

“Implementing this legislation opens new avenues for school districts to save significant dollars in transportation costs.  Depending on bus contract language with a district’s bus carrier, the possibilities will now exist for districts to reduce routes by parents and guardians waiving their need for district-provided and funded transportation. In these economic times, parents and guardians are acutely aware of the need for districts to generate savings. Therefore, the savings generated from this Act may be reallocated to support and sustain educational programs.”
CONTACT: Tom Aikens: taikens@pasen.gov 724-863-1038