Title 16

Chapter 21.1
Transportation of School Pupils Beyond City and Town Limits [See Title 16 Chapter 97 — The Rhode Island Board of Education Act]

R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-21.1-8

§ 16-21.1-8. Statewide transportation system for all students.

(a) Notwithstanding the regional structure created in this chapter, and upon implementation of a statewide school transportation system for all students, each school committee shall purchase the transportation services for their own resident students by accessing this integrated statewide system of transportation on a fee-for-service basis for each child; provided, however, that any school committee that fulfills its transportation obligations predominantly through the use of district-owned buses or district employees may apply for a variance from the commissioner of education, or the commissioner’s designee, thereby requesting that its transportation obligations continue to be achieved through the use of the buses owned by the district and staffed by district employees. All fees paid for transportation services provided to students under the statewide system shall be paid into a statewide student transportation services restricted receipt account within the department of elementary and secondary education. Payments from the account shall be limited to payments to the transportation service provider and transportation system consultants. This restricted receipt account shall not be subject to the indirect cost recoveries provisions set forth in § 35-4-27. The goals of the statewide system of transportation for all students shall be the reduction of duplication of cost and routes in transporting children from the various cities and towns using different buses within and between each city and town, the improvement of services to children through the development of shorter ride times and more efficient routes of travel, and the reduction of cost to local school committees through achieving efficiency in eliminating the need for each school district to contract for and provide these transportation services separately.

(b) There shall be deducted from the final aid payment to each school district any amounts owed to the state at the end of the fiscal year for transportation of the district’s students under the statewide transportation system established pursuant to this section. Districts shall receive monthly invoices summarizing the basis of the transportation fees charged. Any such deductions in aid shall be transferred to the statewide student transportation services restricted receipt account, as set forth in § 35-4-27.

(c) No school committee shall negotiate, extend, or renew any public transportation service contract unless the contract provides for payments to school bus drivers, attendants, monitors, and aides for one hundred and eighty (180) days or the length of the contracted-for school year, whichever is longer.

(d) With respect to any contract entered into under this section, a school committee or local education agency shall give a preference in contract and/or subcontract awards to the public transportation provider that uses electric buses to the greatest extent. This preference shall be given equal weight to any other preferences available to vendors.

(e) With respect to any contract entered into under this section, no school committee or local education agency (“LEA”) shall take any adverse disciplinary action against any school bus driver, attendant, monitor, or aide covered by a collective bargaining agreement prior to any investigation or action taken by the contracting entity as provided for in the collective bargaining agreement. Nor shall the school committee or LEA impose discipline in excess of what is provided for in the governing collective bargaining agreement.

History of Section.
P.L. 2006, ch. 266, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 553, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 237, § 1; P.L. 2009, ch. 5, art. 12, § 2; P.L. 2010, ch. 23, art. 8, § 3; P.L. 2011, ch. 151, art. 10, § 2; P.L. 2021, ch. 292, § 2, effective July 9, 2021; P.L. 2021, ch. 293, § 2, effective July 9, 2021.