EMPLOYEE TRAVEL COMPENSATION – TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL DISTRICT
The Columbus Public Schools will reimburse employees for their actual necessary expenses. Actual and necessary expenses are only those expenses that are associated with authorized travel, conference attendance, an official function, or other business related activities necessary to attain the outcome specified by the District. Such may include meals, lodging, transportation, parking, and other expenses directly related to the travel of an individual as an employee of the District. Expenses that shall not be reimbursed, and generally should not appear on any reimbursement request submitted to the District, would include additional expense associated with the attendance of a person not employed by the District, the purchase of alcoholic, beverages, and the purchases of items for personal use or personal entertainment.
Employees must adequately account for and provide adequate supporting information for all expenses to be reimbursed. Claims submitted to the Columbus Public Schools must generally be supported and substantiated with receipts or cancelled checks supported by itemized bills.
The District will not reimburse employees for expenses that are reimbursed by outside agencies.
In addition, actual and necessary expenses for approved travel will be reimbursed according to the following:
Employees of the Columbus Public Schools shall be provided with safe and dependable methods of travel. In all instances, travel and associated expenses shall be by the most cost effective means reasonable available. Transportation for approved travel outside the boundaries of the District shall be provided under the following guidelines:
1. School employees will be provided with a school-owned vehicle when such a vehicle is available. If a school-owned vehicle is not available, other alternatives will be provided. In determining an alternative mode of travel, safety, cost, availability, and distance shall govern the selection of the transportation
2. When a school vehicle is not available or for trips outside the boundaries the District but less than 60 miles one-way, reimbursement for the use of a personal vehicle will be at the automobile rate determined by the State of Nebraska, unless otherwise required by law. This reimbursement rate, however, will only be provided when a school vehicle is not available or for trips outside the boundaries of the District but less than 60 miles one-way.
However, if an employee decides to use a personal vehicle in a situation where a school vehicle could have reasonably been used, the reimbursement rate for such travel will only be the estimated cost of using a school vehicle. In this instance, supervisors will be responsible for determining the amount to be reimbursed for travel using the following methods as appropriate to the transportation mode that could have been used. The formula for determining the cost of using a school vehicle will be:
Total miles of the trip ÷ 17, × the average cost of a gallon of gas that could be purchased in the District during the travel event. The Superintendent reserves the ability to periodically change how the cost of using a school vehicle as long as such change results in a more accurate reflection of present fuel costs and periodic adjustments in the rate of reimbursement for the use of a personal vehicle.
3. When a school employee must make out-of-state trips or agreed upon time limitations prevent the use of an automobile, the District will provide employees with suitable public carrier transportation.
4. The District will only reimburse one individual employee and will not reimburse multiple employees for transportation when the travel destination and activity participation of the employees are identical, unless otherwise approved in advance by a supervisor and as may be necessary to further the business of the District. The District, therefore, supports the maximization of resources that occurs through the sharing of resources. Multiple employees, however, shall be reimbursed if multiple vehicles are necessary to reasonably transport all involved employees.
The District may pay the actual cost of lodging, if approved by a supervisor, provided that one of the following criteria is met:
A. The travel destination of the employee is at least one hour from Columbus, and the approximate required departure is prior to 6 a.m. or the approximate estimated time of return would be after 10:00 p.m.
B. Road conditions are not safe, or are projected to be unsafe at the time of travel, as determined by the employee and the supervisor.
C. The approved event is scheduled for more than one day and the employee will be attending on contiguous days at a location that is greater than a one-hour drive from Columbus.
Arrangements for lodging shall be arranged in a timely fashion and as directed by a supervisor. Employees are to make arrangements so that their lodging is directly billed to the District, when possible. When direct billing is not possible, employees are to acquire a tax exemption form and present this form to the management of the lodging establishment upon check in. Taxes for lodging will only be reimbursed by the District if the management of the lodging establishment refuses both the direct billing option and the use of the District’s tax exemption status.
The District will not be responsible for additional room charges that may be incurred by the employee during their lodging stay, unless such charges are directly related to the needs of the District and are necessary for the efficient operation of the District. In cases in which a non-District employee accompanies an employee on official business, the District will only pay the expenses of the employee. Lodging another receipts must indicate the appropriate single-person charges.
When multiple employees of like assignments require identical lodging arrangements and locations, staff will, as appropriate and available, share lodging accommodations at a rate of two individuals per room with two beds. Exceptions to this shared resource provision may be made by a supervisor.
Approved travel, outside the District, may allow an employee to qualify for a meal reimbursement. Generally, purchased meals within the District are not reimbursable. Meals within the District, however, may be reimbursable if the meal is a working breakfast, lunch or diner. Otherwise, for a meal to be reimbursable, as determined by a supervisor, an employee must have travel status as indicated below (such travel includes travel to and from an out-of-District event and attendance at the event):
Meal reimbursement will be for actual costs, if such costs are below the maximum meal reimbursement rates established for the travel event, and a receipt is provided that includes the date, name, and address of the restaurant and the amount of the purchase. Meal reimbursement will not be made for in-between meal refreshments that may be purchased during travel or at breaks.
If a group of employees purchase a meal using a District credit card, the name of each employee should be written on the meal receipt. Meals, between meal conference, official function, or hearing shall not be reimbursed; may logically replace the need for meal reimbursement; and are exempted from the maximum meal reimbursement limitations as such meals are outside the control of the employee. Meal reimbursement rates shall cover, or partially cover if exceeded, the cost of the meal and the service gratuity. Service gratuities should not exceed 15% of the actual cost of the meal unless, given a group setting, the meal established, no additional gratuity will be reimbursed). Meal reimbursement shall be on a per-day basis ($45 per day for three meals). If the timing of the travel is such that only one or two meals are to be provided by the District, the following guidelines shall be used. Maximum meal reimbursement rates, when the meal is furnished within Nebraska, will be as follows:
Supervisors may establish lower maximum meal reimbursement rates for Nebraska, than specified above, if it is reasonable for them to do so given the nature of the travel. The Superintendent, and the Superintendent only, may establish higher maximum meal reimbursement rates for Nebraska, than specified above, if it is reasonable to do so given the nature of the travel.
Meal reimbursement rates for meals consumed outside the State of Nebraska shall be according to GSA meal rates, unless otherwise specified by the Superintendent.
Credit Card Use During Travel
The District will maintain credit cards for authorized travel and related expenses when an employee is required to travel on behalf of the District. The credit cards of the District may be utilized for the purpose of books, copies, or other materials), but such use shall only occur when the vendor is unable or unwilling to bill the District directly. Miscellaneous purchases made by means other than a District credit card will be reimbursed if properly documented and determined to be associated travel costs.
All District credit cards will be maintained in the District Office as specified by the Superintendent and will be checked out to individual staff members when authorized to use such credit cards. The staff member that the credit card is checked out to is responsible for the use of that credit card during the time of issuance. While the designated and responsible staff member may allow another District employee to use the issued credit card during a travel event, the individual issued the card will remain responsible for the card and will direct the use of the card.
When credit cards are checked out, the following procedure will be used to assure the employee has proper and sufficient spending capabilities:
Questions Pertaining to an Allowable Expense
Should an employee have a question or concern about the reimbursement of an expense to be incurred, it is the employee’s responsibility to raise such a question or concern with a supervisor prior to incurring that expense. In all cases, it shall be the Superintendent’s responsibility to determine the allowable expenses of the District.
Legal Reference: Neb. Statute 13-2201 et seq.
Cross Reference: 206.04 Board Member Compensation and Expenses
402.06 Transporting of Students by Employees
402.09 Credit Cards
Policy COLUMBUS PUBIC SCHOOLS