Several questions have arisen from ISBE’s March 17, 2020 webinar with respect to transportation vendors’ widespread requests to school districts for continued payments during the COVID-19 shutdown. Through recent communications, ISBE has confirmed that it is not mandating that school districts continue to pay their transportation vendors. Rather, each school district has the option to consider an amendment to an existing agreement with its transportation vendor to make payments during the school closure. Additionally, if a school district opts to make such payments, our expectation is that ISBE will not reimburse the entire shut-down payment, but rather, in accordance with its past practice, will reimburse school districts at the same proration levels as it had for transportation expenses prior to the COVID-19 crisis. While future state or federal COVID-19 funding sources may ultimately result in reimbursement at a higher effective rate, it is uncertain whether and to what extent such funding will be available.
If your school district decided to make payments to your transportation vendor during the current and future school closures, your school district should enter into a contract amendment that protects the school district’s interests and places certain critical responsibilities on the transportation vendor related to these payments.