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TO:                  Superintendents of Schools


FROM:           J. Duke Albanese, Commissioner




DATE:            December 19, 2001


            The Department of Education has completed the review of all applications for School Bus Subsidy Funds for fiscal year 2003.  The results of this review will be posted on the Department’s website at no later than December 31, 2001.  Beginning this year, districts will not receive individual letters notifying them of approvals or denials.


Under the current Statute, Title 20-A MRSA, § 5401, approvals for cash and note purchases of school buses are limited to a total of $5 million per year.  Subsidy for cash and note purchases is paid the year following the purchase.  Lease-purchase acquisitions are currently subsidized differently than cash or note purchases.  Lease-purchases are funded as transportation program costs and subsidy is paid two years following the lease payment expense.  The approval levels, funding procedures and rules for lease-purchase acquisitions will change when the revised statute language becomes effective in fiscal year 2004 (reference MRSA Title 20-A § 5401, Sub-section 15).


            To receive subsidy on any purchase or lease purchase, a district must submit a School Bus Purchase Report (EF-T-20) for each new bus acquired (even those buses purchased without subsidy approval).  If a district wishes to change the method of payment, a request must be submitted to the Department of Education prior to the change being made.  Districts are also required to file a completed EF-T-20 if they decide to cancel their approved bus purchases.  These requests and notifications are necessary to allow the Department to make full use of the funds allocated for the subsidy of school bus purchases.  Failure to submit a properly completed EF-T-20 may result in a delay or reduction in subsidy payments to the district.  The EF-T-20 can be downloaded directly from the Forms section of the Department of Education web page. 


            One final point of interest:  We are entering our second year in the development of a State School Bus Purchasing Program.  Twelve district transportation supervisors have participated in the writing of specifications for 66, 72, and 77/78 passenger conventional school buses and for 78 and 84 passenger transit school buses.  This collaborative process assures that the bus specifications used for the purchase contracts are consistent with district needs.


Instructions on how to order a bus through the State School Bus Purchasing Program, bus specifications, pricing and vendor information are available through the DOE web page at the address shown in paragraph 1, above.  You are encouraged to utilize this program.  Your participation will make it possible to negotiate the best possible price for a quality school bus. 


If you have any questions regarding school bus subsidy approvals and denials, or the School Bus Purchasing Program, please contact Harvey Boatman at 207-624-6884 or via email at