SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 3
AS AMENDED BY
HOUSE AMENDMENT NOS. 1 AND 2
PROVIDING FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A TASK FORCE TO REVIEW AND MAKE
RECOMMENDATIONS ON A NUMBER OF ISSUES RELATING TO SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION.
WHEREAS, 85% of Delaware's public school students ride buses to and from school and the cost of public school transportation accounts for $1 out of every $12 state dollars spent on education; and
WHEREAS, nationally the average percentage of public school students transported is about 55%; and
WHEREAS, the basic formulas for the reimbursement of school bus contractors and school districts which operate their own buses have been in place since 1978 and have from time to time been recalibrated and adjusted for inflation; and
WHEREAS, the current reimbursement formulas were developed for
gasoline-powered buses and not diesel-powered buses which are becoming increasingly common in Delaware; and
WHEREAS, there has been an increase in the number of bus contracts held by large contactors operating 5 or more routes; and
WHEREAS, the current contracts permit a contractor to terminate service each year within 30 days of final approval of the State's operating budget for that fiscal year, effectively giving schools about 30 days notice that they must replace a contractor who intends to terminate service; and
WHEREAS, current State law permits assignment of school bus contracts without competitive bidding but another statute prohibits State employees or their immediate family members from entering into contracts for services unless those contracts result from competitive bidding; and
WHEREAS, there has from time to time been a shortage of school bus drivers in some parts of the State, a condition which may be further aggravated by the new federal requirements relating to licensing of commercial operators including school bus drivers; and
WHEREAS, in the FY 91 Budget Act, the General Assembly authorized the Department of Public Instruction to begin a project to computerize school bus scheduling so that the utilization of school buses can be optimized thereby reducing the number of school buses that are needed to safely transport Delaware's school children; and
WHEREAS, the State spends approximately $2.8 million a year to partially defer the costs of transportation incurred by parents of students attending non-public schools.
WHEREAS, unlike public school transportation, the non-public transportation program permits reimbursement to parents whose children are transported by private conveyance as well as those who ride non-public, school-operated buses; and
WHEREAS, school bus safety is a continuing concern of the General Assembly and the Governor of the State of Delaware; and
WHEREAS, parents continue to be concerned about the amount of time some students spend on the buses and about the impact of bus schedules on the starting and closing times of some schools; and
WHEREAS, %t is the intent of this resolution to cause a thorough and comprehensive examination of school transportation issues to be undertaken for the purpose of developing recommendations as to how the current levels of funding can be more efficiently and effectively allocated for transportation
services or reallocated for the benefit of classroom education and to assure
that transportation related disruptions of the education process are minimized.
BE IT RESOLVED that the Senate and House of Representatives of the 136th General Assembly concludes that the high cost of pupil transportation necessitates that this appropriation be managed in a manner that maximizes the funding available for classroom education without compromising the safety, efficiency, or viability of the transportation system.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the 136th General Assembly of the State of Delaware that a Task Force on School Transportation is hereby established to review and make recommendations on the following issues related to school transportation and others that the Task Force may deem appropriate:
1 Formulas or methods of reimbursement of school bus contractors and
school districts which operate their own buses including variations that may be considered in order to distinguish between gasoline—powered and diesel—powered buses;
1. Terms of school bus contracts, particularly as they relate to termination of contracts either by the school district or the contactor;
1. Conflicts in current statutes that require bidding if the contract is awarded to a State employee but which exclude school bus contracts from the bid laws;
1. Shortages of school bus drivers and the impact of the new federal commercial driver's license;
1. The possibility that transportation costs could be reduced if a public transit option system was established for older students in areas served by the existing public transportation system;
1. An examination of the policy issues relating to the non—public transportation methodology;
1. School bus safety issues, including unique hazards;
1. School bus scheduling issues;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Task Force on School Transportation shall be composed of the following members:
1. A member of the State Board of Education who shall serve as chairperson and who shall be appointed by the President of the State Board of Education;
1. One member of the Senate appointed by the Senate Pro Tempore;
1. One member of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives;
1. The State Budget Director or a designee appointed by the Budget Director;
1. The Controller General or a designee appointed by the Controller General;
1. A local school district superintendent appointed by the Chief School Officers Association;
1. A representative of the Delaware Administration for Regional Transit, appointed by the Secretary of Transportation.
1. The Director of the Office of Highway Safety;
1. Two public at—large members, appointed by the President of the State Board of Education one of whom shall have experience in fleet
management or transportation issues and one of whom shall have been recommended by the Parent Teachers Association.
a. A representative of the Delaware School Bus Contractors Association.
b. A representative of the Catholic Schools Office appointed by the Diocese of Wilmington Schools, Inc.
c. A representative of the Delaware Association of Independent Schools appointed by the President of that Association.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Task Force shall be provided with staff assistance by the Department of Public Instruction; and that the individuals, groups and agencies that could either assist this undertaking or be affected by the Task Force's recommendations are encouraged to cooperate fully with any requests the Task Force makes.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the chairperson is authorized to organize subcommittees to deal with specific issues or areas, each of which shall be chaired by a member of the task force and whose membership may also include representatives of groups or individuals not listed above in order to assure that the committee, in its deliberations, has had the benefit of all relevant points of view and technical expertise. Any such person or group asked to serve on a subcommittee shall not be considered a voting member of the task force.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Task Force complete its deliberations and report its final recommendations to the Governor, the President Pro Tempore, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the State Board of Education by January 15, 1992, and that a preliminary progress report be submitted by May 31, 1991.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution be sent to all of the organizations listed herein.
Approved February 8, 1991.