State law allows school districts to provide transportation to resident pupils by contracting with the parent or guardian of the pupil to be transported. Typically, parent contracts are used in cases where the school district would have to incur unusually high costs to transport a particular pupil or group of pupils by school bus. There are two different types of parent contracts authorized under the law. Both types of contracts apply only in cases where the school board is required by law to transport the pupil to and from school. These two contract types are outlined below.
Contracts for Public or Private School Pupils - s. 121.55(1)(b), Wisconsin Stats.
- May be used for any pupil, whether they attend a public or private school.
- Amount of compensation is determined in negotiations between school district and individual parents/guardians.
- If the parent/guardian and the school board cannot agree on the amount of compensation to be provided in the contract, DPI will determine the amount of compensation only if requested to do so by both parties.
- If a parent/guardian rejects the parent contract method, the school board must provide transportation using one of the following alternative methods listed in s. 121.55(1):
- by contract with a common carrier, a taxi company, or other parties;
- by contract with the parent or guardian of the pupil to be transported;
- by contract with another school board, board of control of a cooperative educational service agency, or the proper officials of any private school or private school association;
- by contract between two or more school boards and an individual or a common carrier; or
- by the purchase and operation of a motor vehicle.
Contracts for Private School Pupils Only - s. 121.55(3), Wisconsin Stats.
- May only be used for transportation of eligible private school pupils.
- A school board may offer this type of contract only if the school district is eligible as determined by the following conditions:
- the estimated cost to transport the private school pupil is more than 1.5 times the school district’s average cost per pupil for regular (to and from school) bus transportation in the previous school year, excluding transportation for kindergarten pupils during the noon hour and special transportation for pupils with disabilities; and
- the school board notifies the parent/guardian of the pupil of its intention to offer a contract under this provision at least 30 days before the start of the public school district’s term. Notification must include the DPI worksheet used to calculate the school district’s average cost and the estimate of the cost to transport the pupil.
- The amount of compensation provided in the contract must be at least equal to the greater of the following:
- $5 times the distance, in miles, between the pupil’s home and the private school; or
- the school district’s average cost per pupil for regular (to and from school) bus transportation in the previous school year, excluding transportation for kindergarten pupils during the noon hour and special transportation for pupils with disabilities.
- The payment cannot exceed the actual cost of the transportation.
- State law requires contract payments to be made on an annual basis for each pupil to be transported, even if more than one pupil in a particular family is transported to the same private school, except for a district operating under chapter 119 of the state statutes (Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS)). In MPS, if two or more pupils reside in the same household and attend the same private school, the contract may, at the discretion of the school board, provide for an annual payment for all such pupils of not less than $5 times the distance in miles between the pupils' residence and the private school they attend, or the school district's average cost per pupil for bus transportation in the previous year, excluding the cost for noon transportation for kindergarten pupils and for pupils with disabilities, whichever is greater.
- If the school board and the parent/guardian cannot agree on the amount of compensation, either party may ask DPI to determine the amount.
- If a school board has met the requirements to offer this type of contract and the parent rejects the contract, the school board is not obligated to provide transportation for the pupil.