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School bus contractors may get paid during crisis

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania school bus contractors now have an opportunity to receive continued payments from schools during the COVID-19 emergency which has resulted in all K-12 schools being closed indefinitely.

On March 28, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 751 into law as an amendment to Pennsylvania’s Public School Code of 1949. The new law, known as Act 13 of 2020, confirms that schools are permitted to negotiate interim agreements or contract amendments to pay school bus contractors to assure that the contractor’s personnel costs, fixed costs, administrative costs, and equipment costs are maintained during the period of school closure.

The new law states that if a school continues to pay its school bus contractors, the school shall be eligible for reimbursement from the Pennsylvania Department of Education at the rate the school would have received had the Pandemic of 2020 not occurred. Under the provisions of this law, school bus contractors are required to submit weekly reports to the school confirming that staffing and equipment readiness is being maintained during the school closure.

The Pennsylvania School Bus Association (PSBA), which consists of approximately 300 school transportation contractors and industry partners, met with numerous legislative leaders in early March. Locally, PSBA members contacted state legislators seeking their support on this issue. School bus contractors represent the overwhelming majority of school bus operators in Pennsylvania where over 1.5 million students are transported to school each day on a school bus.

“PSBA would like to thank the General Assembly and Governor for their unanimous support of this legislation,” said PSBA President Richard Wolfington, Jr., “By allowing pupil transportation funding to continue, we increase our chances of a seamless start back to school with professional and trained drivers ready to resume the important job of transporting Pennsylvania’s future – our children.”

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