A study of the funding of pupil transportation in Virginia
Burnett, Clyde H.
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Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to examine the pupil transportation program in Virginia relative to those used in the fifty states, to examine variations in transportation costs among Virginia's school districts, and to analyze Virginia's present pupil transportation funding method and alternative funding plans in relation to recognized principles of pupil transportation finance. Design of the Study The research design for this study was implemented in five phases. First, pupil transportation information was collected from all states in order to review current state pupil transportation programs. Second, pupil transportation literature was reviewed to identify cost factors, fiscal models and evaluation criteria. Third, Virginia's present pupil transportation program was evaluated. Fourth, pupil transportation data for the 1978-79 school year were collected from all school districts in Virginia and analyzed. The best predictor(s) of cost was determined by using appropriate statistical analysis (such as correlation, stepwise multiple regression analysis, and scattergrams) to examine the relationship between per pupil transportation costs (dependent variable) and various independent variables that contribute to variations in cost. The best predictors of cost were used in alternate funding formulas. Finally, computer simulation was used to analyze the fiscal implications of the alternate formulas on the school districts and the state. Conclusions and Recommendations State pupil transportation programs are characterized by diversity and individuality. This writer grouped the fiscal models used by the states to allocate pupil transportation funds into five models: equalization concept/ formula, percentage grant, flat grant, approved cost, and state-owned/operated. From the review of literature, statements and terms related to evaluating state pupil transportation programs were grouped into twelve summary terms. The following terms were considered valid for use in this study: adequacy, reliability, simplicity, efficiency, objectivity, and equity. Virginia's current allocation plan met the requirements for simplicity, objectivity, and partially fulfilled the requirements for efficiency but did not meet the standards for adequacy, reliability and equity. Nine factors that cause variations in the cost of pupil transportation were selected for analysis. The average cost per pupil per year was selected as the dependent/ criterion variable. The analysis concluded that linear density was the best predictor of pupil transportation costs in Virginia. Three alternate funding formulas were developed, and all were judged to be better predictors of cost than Virginia's present reimbursement plan. However, only two of the three plans met all of the evaluative criteria established in the study. Based on the findings of this study, three recommendations were offered. First, Virginia should adopt alternate equation 3 (regression equation utilizing linear density - inverse form - as the cost predictor) for use in distributing pupil transportation funds. Second, Virginia should provide more funds for pupil transportation, eventually providing the full funding of predicted cost. Third, Virginia should conduct a study to determine if special funding provisions are needed for the cost of transporting special education pupils in special buses and, if necessary, develop an appropriate funding plan.
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