Appendix A: Data and Methodology
The data for the study derive primarily from T1 and T2 reports filed annually by school districts in Ohio. These are data used by the state to determine the amount the state will pay for pupil transportation. The T1s report the number of pupils transported and miles driven on a single day. The data are broken down in several ways, including by individual bus, by public vs. non-public pupils and by in-house vs. contractor-owned buses. T2s report the districts’ costs connected to transportation. These data are also broken down by individual bus, public vs. non-public pupil and in-house vs. contractor. Neither form includes information on disabled pupils.
To determine the annual miles, daily miles reported were multiplied by 180. This is a formula used by Ohio’s Department of Education. It is important to note that mileage figures include only miles incurred by a contractor or a school district transporting students. They do not include data on other utilities or parents transporting pupils. As a result, to determine a district’s cost per mile, expenses connected with public utilities and parental transportation were subtracted from a district’s total reported costs to come up with a net-cost variable. The following formula was then used to determine cost per mile:
Cost per mile = net costs/annual miles
To determine per-pupil costs, the total costs reported by the district and the total number of pupils transported by the district per year were used. The following formula was then used to determine cost per mile:
Cost per pupil = total costs/total annual pupils.
Unless otherwise indicated, figures have not been adjusted for inflation. This was done for two reasons. First, the five-year time period is relatively short. Therefore, adjusting for inflation would make only a marginal difference. More importantly, the focus of the report was not changes over time but rather the relative costs across districts, which would not change with inflation-adjusted numbers.
A second source of data included annual financial reports from school districts that have privatized their bus services. In addition to cost information, the reports also contain demographic information about the districts.
Third, contracts from several districts that rely primarily on private vendors were collected. Specifically, copies of both the most recent and previous contracts were collected to determine what changes had occurred. As noted above, this was not done in any comprehensive way. However, an effort was made to collect contracts from urban and rural districts, as well as from different parts of the state.
Finally, informational discussions were held with school district treasurers, transportation directors, employees from the Department of Education’s Office of Finance and other scholars who have worked on this issue. These discussions were not formal interviews. They took place primarily to understand different aspects of the written data, specifically the state reports and contracts, on which this study is based.