The nonpublic transportation reimbursement claim is the way by which parents of children attending a non-public school, or school districts, may get reimbursed for at least a part of their transportation costs. The funding for this program is appropriated by the legislature from the State of Iowa’s general fund.
The program is mandated by Iowa Code section 285.1(14), which states: "Resident pupils attending a nonpublic school located either within or without the school district of the pupil’s residence shall be entitled to transportation on the same basis as provided for resident public school pupils under this section."
Iowa Code section 285.1(15 & 16) clarifies the variables of where the non-public schools might be located while Iowa Code section 285.1(17) outlines the options from which a public school district may choose in order to provide the transportation. It’s the district’s decision as to which option to use, and one of those options is reimbursement.
Iowa Code section 285.2 tells how claims are paid and outlines the responsibility of the district. Meanwhile, Iowa Code section 285.3 details parental responsibilities such as the filing deadlines and the number of students for which they may file a claim. The filing and payment process begins with the parents filing a claim form with the resident district, which in turn files a claim with the Department of Education. The DE processes the claims, then makes a lump sum payment to each district, which in turn make the individual payments to the parents. If it is the district filing the claim, the parents are simply removed from the above formula.
Districts submit their claims via the DE applications website using the secure login and password as provided to them by the DE.
There are specific timelines to follow for submitting the claims, both from the parents and the districts. Those timelines are outlined below:
- Parents must have their claims filed with the resident district by December 1 for the first semester and by May 1 for the second semester.
- Districts must have their claims filed with the DE by June 15.
There are details far too numerous to mention associated with the filing of the nonpublic transportation reimbursement claims. For specific answers to questions, it is advised that you consult the aforementioned sections of the Iowa Code. However, some basic items to remember include:
- Transportation is available for all non-public students on the same basis as for public students. (i.e. For elementary students who reside more than two miles or secondary students who reside more than three miles from their school of attendance)
- There are four options available to a district to meet the requirement of transportation. These four options are fully explained in Iowa Code section 285.1(17).
- Transportation in a bus operated by the public school district.
- Contracting with private parties as provided in Iowa Code section 285.5.
- Utilizing the transportation reimbursement.
- Contracting with a contiguous public school district to transport to a non-public school located within that contiguous school district.
- The district decides which option to use.
- Parents cannot file for reimbursement if the district is providing transportation via any of the other 3 options besides reimbursement.
- Eligible families may only file a claim for up to three family members who attend elementary and middle school, and one family member who attends high school (Iowa Code section 285.1(3)).
- Eligible families who transport over 4 miles, are entitled to one supplemental mileage payment per family, per claim period.
- Both the reimbursement amount and the supplemental mileage amount are determined by the Department of Education using a formula that incorporates the previous year’s statewide average per pupil transportation cost (Iowa Code section 285.1(3) & Iowa Code section 285.3(1)).
- Regardless of where the non-public school is located, either within or without the resident district, if the family is eligible and the district chooses to utilize the transportation reimbursement provision, a claim may be filed.
- Districts who provide non-public transportation using their own buses or by contracting are also eligible to file a claim for transportation reimbursement.
- Non-public payments from the state are made in mid to late summer for the entire year.
- Districts should not provide parental payments until receiving their payment from the state.
- Payments from the state may be pro-rated if claims received exceed the legislative appropriation.