Today, while the educational reform, establishment of the New Ukrainian School and decentralisation of education are in process, there is a task to provide high-quality and accessible education to everyone.
In context of establishing educational districts, networks of hub schools and their branches of transportation of school pupils and village teachers, living beyond walking accessibility, to schools and back home should be properly organised and is a very important component of educational service provision.
The Law of Ukraine "On Education", adopted in September 2017 regulates many aspects of educational service delivery, including transportation. The Law states, that rayon, city and AH councils provide accessibility of the pre-school, primary school, basic secondary and extracurricular education, take care of and finance transportation of pupils and teachers to the primary and secondary educational institutions and backwards (by vehicles, equipped for wheel-chairs, if needed).
The organization of transportation of children by school buses is carried out in accordance with the current normative and legal acts of Ukraine regulating road safety and passenger bus transportation, including the Laws of Ukraine “On road traffic”, “On road transport”, and the Rules of providing passenger road transport services.
Appropriate solutions for school transportation should be identified by the responsible local self-government body. Depending on the existing infrastructural conditions, material and technical support, as well as financial capacity, local administrations can use own school buses (own or sponsored), rented vehicles (rented from business entites or from the local councils), or provide public transport solutions (which is a rare practice given the lack of good local transport, roads and appropriate routes).
Results of research in selected Oblasts in Ukraine show that the most common option of transportation is using own school bus, which belongs to the educational institution or its founder.
Owning a school bus has a number of advantages. A school bus is designed especially for pupils, regularly rides along a set route to transport children and teachers, is always available and, besides regular daily transportation to school and back, can be used to transport children to extracurricular activities, events, sport competitions, participation in pupils' contests, taking external independent tests, etc.
The disadvantages include running costs, e.g., maintenance, insurance payments (for the vehicle and the driver), fuel cost (which can vary seasonally), planned technical examination, the cost of oil, driver’s salary (including the vacation time or on the days when there are fewer rides), and unplanned costs (in case of malfunctions or a traffic accident). It is also necessary to ensure proper space for bus parking, its technical maintenance and the pre-conditions to prepare the vehicle for the ride and daily medical examinations of the driver. All these lies within the responsibilities of the bus balance sheet holder, that can be a school principal or local educational department.
Alternatively, rented buses can be used to bring children to school and back. Many oblasts already have this successful practice in place.
The head of the school (director), as the Client for transportation services, and the transportation company (the owner of the vehicle) identify the route, elaborate the route plan and schedule, then conclude a written agreement on transportation service.
Experience shows that the use of rented vehicles can significantly save both general and operating expenses, as in case of rented vehicles the cost is usually fixed for a long period of time, the carrier bears responsibility for availability or urgent replacement of the bus, driver, technical condition, examination, servicing, insurance, record-keeping, etc. and the hromada/school just use the services.
Newly established amalgamated hromadas facing the issue of transportation of pupils and teachers, especially when forming the school network and creating hub schools and their branches, are advised to consider the option of renting vehicles for transportation services, if there are proper conditions. Rented transport can be a very effective and beneficial alternative to purchasing school buses.
The full text of Overview of regulations and options for local self-government about school transport can be found HERE
The overview and recommendations were developed with the support of the U-LEAD with Europe: Ukraine – Local Empowerment, Accountability and Development Programme.
Prepared by Dmytro Iakymchuk, regional advisor on decentralisation in educational sector, Central Reform Office Support Unit, South-Eastern Hub (Dnipro).
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