State Education Department

Oversight of District-Owned Bus Operations (93-S-15)

New York's school districts are reimbursed by the Department for some of the expenses they incur in transporting students to and from school. In the 1991-92 fiscal year, these reimbursements totaled $348 million. We examined the procedures used by the Department to monitor transportation costs and review district claims for reimbursement.

We found that the Department did not analyze the costs in order to identify districts with costs that were unnecessarily high. Our analysis identified wide variances in district transportation costs. For example, during the 1991-92 year, the costs ranged from $.87 per mile in one district to $5.27 per mile in another district. While some of this variance was due to factors beyond the districts' control, some of the variance was due to factors that could be controlled. For example, the seven districts we visited often did not purchase transportation related supplies through State purchase contracts, and as a result, paid higher prices than necessary for some of the supplies. If the purchasing practices of these seven districts were representative of purchasing practices statewide, the use of State contracts during the 1991-92 year could have saved a total of $1.4 million.

We also found that the seven districts received excess reimbursements for their transportation costs because of errors in completing reimbursement claim forms. If these errors were representative of the errors statewide, the excess reimbursements during the 1991-92 year could have exceeded $6 million.

(This report is not available electronically you can request a printed copy via email.)