(Revised for SY 2012-13)
The Forsyth County Schools Transportation Department provides service for any eligible student to and from school each day. In addition, thousands of students receive transportation service during the school year for activities that enhance the learning experience, but are available only outside the school setting. Those activities include, but are not limited to field trips, athletics, club events, and academic competitions.
The school system recognizes that not every student participates in every (or any) activity outside the school and therefore not very student receives the benefit of these additional transportation services. In 2003, the local schools and the Transportation Department agreed upon the practice of assessing and billing the costs for all activity trips requested by the schools. Therefore, rather than “pass the cost” of these activities to all students or all stakeholders, the students (or organizations) that use the service are billed for the service. These are generally recognized as “activity fees” or “user fees.”
The cost for any “activity trip” for SY 2012-13 will be $1.57 per mile for the round trip from the school to the activity site. The driver cost will be based on the “zero step” ($14.61 an hour) of the compensation schedule for school bus drivers. Therefore, a field trip from Coal Mountain Elementary to downtown Atlanta to visit the Georgia Aquarium might incur the following costs to the school; $73.05 for 9:00 am to 2:00 pm driver time (5 hours times $14.61 driver wage) plus $141.30 (90 mile round trip times $1.57 per mile) for a total of $214.35. That amount, (confirmed when we receive the actual miles and hours from the driver) is billed to the school. It is left to the school how to collect the funds necessary to “pay the bill.”
Each school establishes a procedure by which fees for activity trips are assessed, collected and remitted to the Finance Department for deposit back into the General Fund. In the case above, that would equate to a per rider cost of less than $5.00 ($4.46) if the bus was transporting two riders per seat to the activity trip (48 riders.)
We believe school bus transportation is the safest, most effective mode of transportation for our students; whether to and from home or to and from school sponsored activities. We further believe it is one of the most economical modes of student transportation. By minimizing the cost of service to our schools for activity trips, we a) encourage the use of school buses by our schools, b) continue to “protect students and support quality learning” in an equitable manner, and c) operate as responsible stewards of the resources we receive from our local taxpayers.