Q: We are running buses to deliver meals and homework and pick up assignments. Will we be compensated for those miles?
- Federal CARES Act money may be used to reimburse districts’ transportation costs for those activities. State law does not provide for transportation payments beyond the cost of transporting students. When completing the 2019-20 transportation report, districts should report miles and rides for transportation routes through March 13, 2020.
Q: Is the state willing to use a district’s mileage and rides information from the 2018-19 school year in budgeting for the 2020-2021 transportation payment?
- State law specifies transportation reimbursement rates for school districts. (SB2013, Section 10, approved by the 2019 Legislature). Payments are made according to the number of miles traveled and the number of students transported. There is no provision for estimating or “pro-rating” transportation costs. The governor, the superintendent of public instruction, and the Legislature’s Budget Section cannot override those provisions. However, federal CARES Act money may be used to make up for transportation payments lost because of North Dakota’s school closings. When completing the 2019-20 transportation report, districts should plan to report miles and rides for transportation routes through March 13, 2020.
Q: When can the Legislature revisit this issue?
- The 2021 session begins Jan. 5. The Legislature has authority to make emergency appropriations. Gov. Burgum also has the option of calling a special session of the Legislature to deal with this issue and others.
Q: How do we categorize funds if we are using it to offset the shortage in transportation funding?
- Funds for transportation would be coded to 12 - Other on the Use of Funds guidance (Appendix B).
Q: What would we check for food delivery service costs?
- Funds for food delivery service would be coded to 12 - Other on the Use of Funds guidance (Appendix B).
Q: Do you need to pay full bus contract amounts if you gave half payments while not running buses?
- The CARES Act regulations requires districts receiving ESSER funds, the extend practicable, to continue to compensate contractors during closures related to COVID-19. If contractors receive partial funding form some other source, it would seem you would not need to provide them with full compensation. The law is asking districts to communicate with their contractors and come to an agreement about compensation that works for both parties.
Q: What if we have been giving half-payments (about a week and two days) to bus route contractors, but we would like to pay them in full?
- Federal CARES Act relief funds may be used for this purpose.