Outline of the Study
Section I of this report provides a context within which to understand contracting and pupil transportation in Ohio. The section maps out contracting: how many children are bused by contractors; the types of contracts districts in Ohio use; and what percentage of districts rely on contractors. The purpose of the section is to provide a conceptual map for understanding what contracting of pupil transportation services is, how many pupils are affected, and how the situation has changed over time.
Section II presents empirical evidence on the cost differences between districts that do and do not contract for bus services. Drawing upon official reports filed with the state Department of Education by Ohio’s 611 school districts from 1994 to 1998, the study compares three types of districts (described below) across several variables: total costs, reimbursements from the state, per-mile costs, and per-pupil costs. The three district types are aggregated based on levels of contracting. Type 1 districts rely exclusively or nearly exclusively on public provision of pupil transportation services. Type 2 districts use a mix of private and public provision of pupil transportation, though public provision typically makes up a much larger portion of the mix. Type 3 districts rely primarily on private contractors to provide pupil transportation. The grouping of districts reflects the types of choices school boards face and therefore offers a more appropriate comparison of costs than estimating costs by type of service (public and private) for the entire state. The purpose of this section is two-fold: first, to develop a measure of the differences in costs between districts that rely to varying degrees on contracted service; and second, to assess any changes in the differentials over time. The data offer a first cut at evaluating the simple hypothesis that contracting districts require fewer resources than districts that are board-run. The data are evaluated for five consecutive years. Although the study is primarily interested in the median, analysis of variance tests based on group means are also reported to determine if differences across district types are the result of chance. Also included in the analysis are the reimbursement rates for each type of district, that is, the amount of a district’s costs that are reimbursed to the district by the state. While they do not impact costs per se, the reimbursement rates reflect the differences in the financial burdens faced by local districts.
Finally, Section III concludes with a summary of the core findings and discusses some explanations that might account for the results.