Successful transportation programs have had to adjust their timelines for declaring transportation impractical and offering payment in lieu of transportation (PILOT) due to new statutory deadlines and processes enacted in 2021. Here are some reminders about those deadlines and practical tips on preparing for timely and effective PILOT determinations. A cost-efficient and legally compliant transportation program is a key component of district operations, especially with financial penalties for noncompliance.
Have the nonpublic and community schools in your district declared their start and end times by April 1? That’s a new deadline. If they have done so, the district’s obligation is to develop a transportation plan for those students in 60 days; i.e., June 1. This is much sooner than districts usually do routing.
If those schools have not yet done so, it is to a district’s benefit, as it plans routes for next year, to request that information, along with student rider names and addresses. Once provided, the district must attempt to respond with the transportation plan by August 1. It is in the district’s interest to get this information quickly so that routing can incorporate these students.
Districts must determine impracticality of transportation 30 days before school begins. This means most families must be notified by mid-July. Determining whether the costs of transportation for nonpublic or community school students are disproportionate must be made on a case-by-case basis. Districts must also consider the other factors for this determination outlined in R.C. 3327.02. Researching each factor and documenting the results will protect the district.
The Superintendent may make the determination after considering all the statutory factors, with the Board approving the same at its next scheduled Board meeting. A letter detailing the reasons supporting the determination of impracticality must be sent to the parents, the State Board, and the community/nonpublic school.
The Board may then offer payment in lieu of transportation (PILOT) to the parents by sending them the resolution, the reasons transportation was declared impractical, notice that the parent may accept or reject the offer and request mediation with ODE, and a contract for the parents to sign if they accept.
Attention to ensuring this process is well underway now is time well spent, with the goal of being ready to make decisions in July. Failure to do so risks missing deadlines, which could result in transporting students the entire year.
Values for payment in lieu of transportation for 2023-24 already have been announced by ODE- a minimum amount of $596.43 and maximum of $1,192.87.