School transportation is organised in accordance with the Finnish Basic Education Act and the transportation policy established by the Kokkola municipal board for education and culture. The transportation policy contains the principles for granting a pupil free transportation to basic education or pre-primary education, describes the methods of organising the transportation and provides instructions on how to behave during transportation. The purpose of the transportation policy is to ensure that all pupils are treated equally in matters involving school transportation.
School transportation is mainly organised using public transport. Other modes of transportation, such as taxies and charter buses, are used to supplement the public transport connections. Pupils may have to use several different modes of transportation on their way to school.
Grounds for free school transportation
1) Distance to school
Under the Basic Education Act, a pupil is entitled to free school transportation if the distance to school exceeds five kilometres. The City of Kokkola offers pupils free transportation to the pre-primary education facility/neighbourhood school designated by the local authority if the actual distance to school is:
- over three kilometres for pupils in pre-primary education and grades 1–2
- over five kilometres for pupils in grades 3–9.
A pupil’s actual travel to school means the distance between home and school which the pupil travels daily on their way to pre-primary education/school and back home. The length of a pupil’s travel to school is measured from their home address to school along the shortest public pedestrian route.
The city is not responsible for organising transportation for the whole school travel from door to door. Transportation may be organised for only a specific section of the travel, such as along main roads or other similar public routes. The pupils shall be prepared to travel to the bus stop or other pick-up point by themselves for a maximum distance of:
- two kilometres for pupils in pre-primary education and grades 1–6
- three kilometres for pupils in grades 7–9.
2) Dangerous school travel
If a pupil’s travel to school or a part of that journey is deemed dangerous, the city is obligated to organise transportation for the section that is considered dangerous or to compensate the pupil’s guardian for the costs of transporting the pupil to school. In such cases, the decisions regarding school transportation are made on a case-by-case basis and with consideration to the pupil’s age and/or other circumstances.
The Koululiitu programme can be used as support when assessing potentially dangerous school routes.
3) Difficult or strenuous school travel
The city will organise school transportation for a pupil or compensate the pupil’s guardian for the transportation costs if the travel to school is too difficult or strenuous for the pupil.
Statements from a physician, psychologist or other specialist and the conditions along the school route are considered when assessing the difficulty or strenuousness of the pupil’s travel to school.
The guardian is responsible for acquiring the specialist statement. If the statement is only temporary, the guardian must attach a new statement to the transportation application each year and send it to the Education Office by the end of May.
Pupils attending a school other than their local school
The Kokkola municipal board for education and culture assigns a local school for each pupil under section 6(2) of the Basic Education Act. The right to school transportation applies only to travel to the pupil’s designated local school.
The right to place a child in a school other than the assigned local school may be granted on the condition that the guardian assumes all responsibility for the costs of transporting or escorting the child to school. In such event, the pupil is not entitled to school transportation or compensation for the transportation costs, even if they would be entitled to school transportation to their local school.
The child’s guardians are always responsible for school transportation, when a school other than the designated local school has been chosen for the child based on the family’s own wishes (such as language immersion or mathematics, music or sports-oriented education).
If the parents have joint custody of the child, school transportation is granted and organised only from the address stated in the Population Information System (decision by the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland, KHO 2006:10).
The pupil only has one address entered in the Population Information System, and that address is used to determine the pupil’s local school. The city is not obligated to organise transportation from the residence of the other guardian if they live at a different address.