Travel Practices

Travel advances for employee expenditures are not allowed from the District or ESU No. 19 General Fund or building Student Activity Funds. To minimize the dollar amount of expenditures for which employees may need to seek reimbursement, employees are encouraged to utilize the methods outlined above that allow for direct payment by the District or ESU No. 19 of conference/activity registration, air fare, and lodging. Reimbursement of expenditures can generally be made within two weeks of the time the approved Request for Reimbursement is received by the Accounting & Finance Office provided the necessary receipts/documentation are included.

Staff members are encouraged to take advantage of potential "early-registration" discounts. However, it is the responsibility of each staff member to assure that the Application for Attendance at Professional Conference/Activities has been approved prior to paying for registration. Any employee making arrangements prior to obtaining the necessary written approval will be financially liable for the arrangements if the travel request is denied.

Individual professional-organization membership dues are the responsibility of employees. Unless there is a financial advantage to the District or ESU No. 19, membership dues will not be paid by the District or ESU No. 19 as part of a registration.

If an employee requests reimbursement for a conference/activity registration, a copy of the actual registration form detailing the agenda and registration fee along with an original receipt of payment and/or a copy of the method of payment should be provided as support of the payment.

Expenses incurred by staff while attending a conference may be reimbursable as long as they meet District and ESU No. 19 guidelines and have not been included in the conference registration fee. For all expenses related to a conference/activity, an Application for Attendance at Professional Conference/Activities Form must be attached to the Request for Reimbursement. Lodging expenses may either be directly billed to the District or ESU No. 19 by the hotel/motel after the employee’s stay or paid for by the employee and claimed as a reimbursable expense. Fully itemized lodging receipts must be provided in order to ensure compliance with the Local Government Miscellaneous Expenditures Act.

The District or ESU No. 19 will only pay for, or reimburse staff members for, the actual nights of lodging necessary while traveling on District or ESU No. 19 business. This will normally include the night prior to a conference/activity if the conference/activity start time does not reasonably allow for travel on the initial day and any nights during the conference/activity. The night of the close of the conference/activity may be paid/reimbursed based on the adjournment time and distance to be traveled or if transportation is not available.

Payment by employee submitted for reimbursement: If the employee pays for lodging and claims reimbursement, the original itemized hotel/motel bill must be submitted to document the expense. The District or ESU No. 19 will reimburse staff for the nightly room charge, applicable taxes, parking (if traveling by automobile), business phone calls (to the extent calls are noted as "business" on the bill), internet access charges (to the extent the access charges are reasonable and is required by the staff members immediate supervisor), and room service (to the extent that the cost, when added to the other meals for the day, does not exceed the daily meal allowance). Personal expenses such as telephone calls, movie/game rentals, health room fees, laundry/dry cleaning, safe rental, etc. are not reimbursable.

Direct bill to the School District or ESU No. 19: At the time of making a reservation, an employee may inquire if the hotel/motel will directly bill the District or ESU No. 19. If the hotel/motel requires a copy of the sales tax exempt certificate, please have them contact the Accounting & Finance Office at (531) 299-9379. If the employee elects to have the hotel/motel bill the District or ESU No. 19 directly, only the nightly room charge and applicable taxes may be included on the bill submitted by the hotel/motel. To prevent duplicate payment, the employee must pay for any personal expenses, parking, business phone calls, and room service at checkout. Any items paid for by the employee that qualify and are pre-approved for reimbursement, may then be submitted for reimbursement.

Inclusion in the Conference/Activity Registration: In rare instances, lodging costs may be included in the conference/activity registration. Such lodging expenses may be reimbursed or paid directly by the District or ESU No. 19. However, in these instances, the employee's supervisor should make certain that this arrangement is the most economical and/or practical.

In general, reimbursement or direct payment for lodging will be based on the single room rate. In instances where lodging is shared and 100% reimbursement is pre-approved, each employee may be reimbursed for their portion of the shared room charge not to exceed the single room rate. In instances where less than 100% reimbursement is approved, each employee may be reimbursed their actual room costs up to the pre-approved % of the single room rate. Since a copy of the original hotel/motel bill will need to be submitted by one of the employees sharing a room, a notation should be made on the reimbursement request indicating the individuals involved to allow cross-referencing of the reimbursement requests. If a hotel/motel room is shared with an employee's family member, the employee is responsible for any room charges in excess of the single rate or pre-approved percentage of the single rate.

If the employee does not utilize the hotel/motel as reserved, the employee is responsible for canceling the reservation. The District or ESU No. 19 will not reimburse an employee for expenses incurred as a result of not canceling a reservation.

For any rate situation in which an employee may be traveling outside the continental United States, reimbursement for meals will be on an “actual cost” basis only.

Effective September 1, 2016, the Omaha Public Schools ("District") and Educational Service Unit 19 ("ESU No. 19") will be increasing the Omaha meal per diem to $64.00 per day for travel, according to the General Services Administration (GSA).

Meals included in Conference Registration or meals for the days of actual travel: The following guidelines may be used to determine the portion of the daily allowance to be deducted if a meal is included in the conference registration or a reasonable reimbursement for individual meals for days of travel:

Breakfast $15.00

Lunch $16.00

Dinner $28.00

Incidentals $5.00

Daily Total $64.00

 

The following departure or return times may also be used as a reference for reimbursable meal expenditures on the days in which travel occurs.

Breakfast – When an employee leaves for overnight travel at or before 6:30 a.m., breakfast may be reimbursed.

Lunch – When an employee leaves for overnight travel at or before 11:00 a.m. or returns from overnight travel at or after 2:00 p.m., lunch may be reimbursed.

Dinner – When an employee leaves for overnight travel at or before 4:00 p.m. or returns from overnight travel at or after 7:00 p.m., supper may be reimbursed.

The times listed above should not include the time taken for the meal.

Note: State Statute specifically states that only non-alcoholic beverages may be paid for by public entities. Therefore, the District will not reimburse employees for alcoholic beverages.

For clarification regarding specific meal reimbursement situations, call (531) 299-9654.

The information in this Appendix pertains to travel expenditures incurred during the 2015-2016 school fiscal year.

MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT RATE

Prior to January 1, 2017, the Mileage Reimbursement Rate was $.54.

Effective January 1, 2017, the Mileage Reimbursement Rate is $0.535/mile

The Mileage rate will be adjusted on January 1st, based on determination from the Nebraska Department of Education.

MEAL PER DIEM REIMBURSEMENT RATE

Omaha Daily Meal Allowance: $64.00/day.

Omaha Daily Meal Allowance applies for all cities/locations. This will be adjusted on September 1st. Tuition Assistance is reimbursed by specific grants and must verify allowability with the Grant Accountant in Accounting and Finance.

LOCAL MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT POLICY

 

Omaha Public Schools will reimburse approved employees for the use of their personal vehicle for district business, at the rate published by the Nebraska Department of Education.

 

It is the personal responsibility of the vehicle owner to carry adequate insurance coverage for their protection and the protection of any passengers. Individuals who use their personal automobiles for business travel must have at least $25,000 property damage, $25,000 bodily injury and $50,000 per accident coverage.

 

Mileage reimbursement is meant to cover only business miles incurred. Home to work and work to home are normal commute miles and are not approved for reimbursement.

 

The standard “Automobile Travel” card will be used to document local mileage. Local mileage includes OPS and the Greater Omaha Metropolitan area (Douglas and Sarpy counties). “Automobile Travel” cards are available in the building/department, or by requisition from the Supply Department, item #1633.

 

Reimbursement requests should indicate the date and points of travel as well as the miles eligible for reimbursement. Other required information - Name as it appears on your paycheck and employee number.

 

The manager who approves and signs for approval of payment is responsible for accurately reviewing for district compliance. No employee is authorized to approve his/her own reimbursement.

 

Submit mileage reimbursement requests to Accounting and Finance on or before the 10th of each month. Payment will be on the regular paycheck on either the 5th or 15th of the following month.

 

Submissions should be made on a monthly basis. Any mileage over 3 months old will need the accounting manager’s approval to pay.

 

 

Non-reimbursable Items

In addition to the items noted as personal under the heading of lodging and therefore non-reimbursable, the following other types of items are examples of items that would also not be eligible for reimbursement:

Personal entertainment such as movies, theater tickets, etc.
Personal items such as magazines, books, etc.
Sightseeing expenses
Spouse or family member expenses incurred if accompanying the employee
Alcohol or alcoholic beverages
Expenditures for snacks, unless the snack is in place of a specific meal

Internet access for personal use
Mileage beyond a reasonable level based on city to city map mileage.

Excess baggage charges
Mileage to and from the airport (replacing mileage to and from work)
 


Unusual or Unique Situations

Although this practice and procedure has been designed to cover many circumstances that may arise while traveling, circumstances may arise for which this practice and procedure is silent or, due to the specific situation, appears to create an unintentional financial burden on the employee. Alternative reimbursement procedures may be allowed if pre-approved by the Assistant Superintendent for General Finance and Administrative Services in instances in which this practice and procedure is silent or appears to result in an unintentional financial burden for the traveling employee.

It is the intent of the Omaha Public Schools (“District”) and the Educational Service Unit No.19 (“ESU No. 19”) to provide reimbursement to employees for pre-approved expenditures incurred by them while traveling on behalf of the District or ESU No. 19.

District Required Travel:

In order to be fair and equitable to the employee, it is the intent of the District and ESU No. 19 that employees be fully reimbursed for pre-approved allowable expenditures incurred as a result of required District or ESU No. 19 travels. Required travel includes travel at the direction of the Board, Superintendent, or immediate supervisor. Travel that is an integral part of an individual position is also considered to be required travel.

Employee Requested Travel:

At the discretion of the traveling employee's supervisor, travel expenditures requested by an employee that will benefit the District or ESU No. 19 may be pre-approved at a rate reflecting full reimbursement or a reimbursement level less than 100% of the eligible expenditures in order to maximize District or ESU No. 19 dollars. Travel related to conference attendance will be considered employee requested.

As political entities, all expenditures of the District or ESU No. 19 are a matter of public record. That implies that at any time, any District or ESU No. 19 taxpayer, the State Auditor’s Office, or the Department of Education may make a request to access the District's expenditure records, including employee reimbursements. Because the taxpayers have entrusted the District and ESU No. 19 with the use of their dollars, it is important that all expenditures are based on a fiscally conservative approach. The reimbursement practice and procedure has been developed on such an approach. Employees traveling on District or ESU No. 19 business are encouraged to keep this in mind as they plan for and incur expenditures in the course of their work and as they interact with the Accounting & Finance Office staff to receive reimbursement.

One of the functions of the Accounting & Finance Office is to assure that expenditures are in line with District and ESU No. 19 guidelines and sound accounting practices. The following guidelines for travel reimbursement, and review by the Accounting & Finance staff of actual expenditures, should be viewed as a method used to assure that the typical taxpayer would agree that their tax dollars are spent wisely and appropriately. Expenditures should enhance the education provided to students and also the daily business operations of the District and ESU No. 19.

Reimbursements and Building Activity Funds

All employee travel expenditures to be paid for from the District's General Fund should only be submitted for reimbursement through the District's Accounting and Finance Office. In accordance with the Nebraska Department of Education Rule 2, a building’s Student Activity Fund cannot be used to reimburse an employee for travel expenditures, which are then submitted for General Fund reimbursement to the building’s Student Activity Fund.

In addition, even though an employee’s travel may be for the benefit of a specific student activity or organization, any reimbursement for the employee’s travel expenses should be made from the building’s General Fund and not from the building Student Activity Fund.


Reimbursement Submission

To avoid reimbursement delay due to misplaced or lost receipts, employees are encouraged to submit the Request for Reimbursement and supporting receipts within 30 days after the conference/activity. Please staple all supporting documentation to the Request for Reimbursement form.
 

To assure that reimbursement is made from the school fiscal year in which the expense was incurred, the Request for Reimbursement and supporting documentation must be submitted to the Accounting & Finance Office prior to August 10th. Requests submitted after August 10th may be reimbursed from the subsequent year’s budget.


Staff may be reimbursed for other expenditures made on behalf of the District or ESU No. 19. These miscellaneous expenditures include, but are not limited to: instructional or instructional support materials, supplies, business telephone calls/faxes, internet access charges when reasonable and required by the immediate supervisor, etc. The original receipt or a copy of the method of payment should support the Request for Reimbursement.

For employees on required travel (defined above), the District or ESU No. 19 may also provide reimbursement for up to a five-minute call per day to a designated home telephone number. A copy of the billing information, listing the phone number, length of call, and charge for the call must be provided to support the reimbursement. A phone call charged to a hotel room may not provide adequate documentation.

This practice and procedure has been developed based on provisions contained in Nebraska State Statutes, Federal guidelines, and common business and accounting procedures. The District or ESU No. 19 will reimburse staff members for eligible expenses incurred while traveling on District or ESU No. 19 business to the extent that those expenditures were pre-approved on a Professional Leave Form by the employee's supervisor (e.g. Building principal or Department Head). For any reimbursements to be made from a grant program, the grant program director must also pre-approve the expenditures. If the reimbursement will be made from grant funds, it is the responsibility of the staff member requesting reimbursement to review any grant specific requirements to make sure that the expenditures are allowable within the grant as well as District and ESU No. 19 practice and procedure. If there is a conflict between grant requirements and District and ESU No. 19 practice and procedure, the stricter provision prevails.

Employees should not make travel arrangements until all necessary approvals have been received. Any employee making arrangements prior to obtaining the necessary written approval will be financially liable for the arrangements if the travel request is denied. If air transportation will be utilized in the travel arrangements, please see the section on Air Travel regarding booking arrangements.

The District or ESU No. 19 reimburses expenditures through the use of a Request for Reimbursement Form. If the expenditures pertain to a conference/activity attended by the employee, a copy of the pre-approved Application for Attendance at Professional Conference/Activities must be attached. Staff may obtain the Request for Reimbursement Form and the Application for Attendance at Professional Conference/Activities from their school building office or department office. The Request for Reimbursement Form is also on the District’s website under Departments / Alphabetical listing of departments / Accounting & Finance website / District Travel Practice & Procedure / Travel related forms / Request for Reimbursement. The Request for Reimbursement Form must be signed by the individual staff member, approved by the supervisor, and have appropriate budget coding indicated before being forwarded to the Accounting & Finance Office for processing.

Effective September 1, 2013, the Omaha Public Schools (“District”) and Educational Service Unit No. 19 (“ESU No. 19”) will reimburse meals based off the Omaha Area per diem rate. The Omaha meal per diem as of September 1, 2013, is $61.00; this rate will be adjusted on January 1st of each year.  

Examples of acceptable receipts include:

Conference Registration - copy of the actual registration form detailing the agenda and registration fee along with an original receipt of payment and/or a copy of the method of payment.

Lodging - the original itemized hotel/motel bill listing daily charges.

Air Travel - the booking of air travel is to be arranged through Human Resources at extension 2336. Airline invoice/receipt indicating individual(s) traveling, dates, destinations and cost.

Ground Transportation – the original receipt of payment or car rental agreement.

Occasionally, an employee may incur expenditures while traveling that was not submitted for pre-approval or exceed the pre-approved amounts. At the discretion of the employee’s supervisor, such expenses may be reimbursed as long as the expenditure meets District and ESU No. 19 guidelines. Employees incurring expenditures that have not been pre-approved or exceed pre-approved amounts should be aware that incurring the expense does not guarantee reimbursement.

Air Travel: Air travel shall only be authorized when it is more economical than ground transportation. In the determination of the most economical method of transportation, the impact on productive work time may be taken into consideration. If a staff member elects to travel by a method other than the one determined to be the most economical, the employee will be reimbursed at the lesser amount. If the employee elects to travel by car when the commercial air travel rate is determined to be more economical, no additional en route expenses will be paid.

Unless an employee is traveling with a group of students or other arrangements have been approved by the Board of Education Office and the Assistant Superintendent for General Finance and Administrative Services, air travel for employees must be booked through the Human Resource Department at (531)299-0240. This process allows the District or ESU No. 19 to directly pay for the airfare and avoids a large out-of-pocket expenditure for the employee. In order to assure that the ticket is issued properly, the Human Resource Department requests that employees submit a completed Request for Travel Arrangements and attach a copy of the approved Application for Attendance at Professional Conference/Activities form. Note: in any situation in which approval has been given for booking air travel directly as opposed to utilizing the Board Office, employees should not make travel arrangements until all necessary approvals have been received. Any employee making arrangements prior to obtaining the necessary written approval will be financially liable for the arrangements if the travel request is denied.

Although the Human Resource Department will book flights for a family member accompanying an employee on travel, the employee is responsible for payment to the travel agency/airline at the time of booking. This ensures that family members’ expenses are not included in the travel expenditures paid directly by the District or ESU No. 19. Any arrangements made to extend the stay for personal vacation time that result in an increase in fare must be reimbursed to the District prior to departure.

All fares paid directly by the District or ESU No. 19 or reimbursed to an employee will be based on the coach fare, if such seating is available, at the time of booking. Air travel arrangements other than coach must be pre-approved by the Assistant Superintendent for General Finance and Administrative Services.

Frequent flier miles accumulated while on business trips reimbursed by the District or ESU No. 19 should be used to reduce future District or ESU No. 19 expenses for business travel. Additionally, employees will not be reimbursed for personal frequent flier miles applied to a ticket for District or ESU No. 19 travel.

A request for reimbursement of airfare must be supported by an airline invoice/receipt indicating individual(s) traveling, dates, destinations, and cost along with a copy of the method of payment showing the payment was made by the employee. A boarding pass alone is not considered to be an acceptable receipt.

If a previously arranged flight needs to be changed or cancelled, contact the Human Resource Office at (531) 299-0240. All airline tickets purchased (or reimbursed) by the District or ESU No. 19 for employee travel are District or ESU No. 19 property. Therefore, if the travel plans are cancelled after a paper ticket has been issued to the employee; the paper ticket must be returned to the Human Resource Office. If an electronic ticket has been issued for the employee and the travel plans are cancelled, notify the Board Office. When returning tickets to the Board Office, the employee and supervisor should provide an explanation for the cancellation of the travel plans.

Use of Personal Automobile: An employee may be reimbursed for use of their personal automobile while traveling on District or ESU No. 19 business at the rate provided for in State Statute as of the beginning of the current school fiscal year. (See the Appendix for the current mileage rate.) When possible, employees are encouraged to car pool. When carpooling, only the driver is eligible for mileage reimbursement.

The Request for Reimbursement must reflect the allowable miles traveled. Any miles traveled of a personal nature, such as for sightseeing, is not to be included. Prior to payment, the mileage claim may be compared to city-to-city mileage charts to determine reasonableness.

Rental of Automobile: A rental car may be approved for traveling employees when other means of transportation are unavailable, more costly, or impractical. A building principal or Department Head should only authorize the use of a rental car for business needs of the trip and not the personal convenience of the employee.

Prior to authorizing the rental of a car, the traveling employee's supervisor should make sure that other means of local transportation have been explored and are either not available, more costly, or impractical based on the business needs of the trip. Other means of local transportation to be considered should include: airport shuttles provided to & from the hotel/motel, the walking distance required if staying at a hotel/motel away from the conference/activity location, local buses, taxis, etc. To avoid any question of cost allocation, no personal use of an authorized rental car (for example: sightseeing) will be allowed while traveling on District or ESU No. 19 business.

In instances where a rental is authorized by the traveling employee's supervisor, the most economical, usually an economy or compact size, car should be rented. Employees are encouraged to refuel the rental car before returning it to the rental company since fees charged for refueling generally exceed the average per gallon rate at a gas station. Fuel for a rental car should be paid for by the employee and submitted for reimbursement from the District or ESU No. 19.

In those instances in which car rental has been authorized, the physical damage and liability insurance offered by the rental company should be purchased. The need to purchase the insurance, along with the cost of fuel and any potential parking expenses should be a consideration in determining the most economical form of ground transportation.

Use of District-Owned Cars: Employees desiring to use District-owned vehicles for transportation must submit a Request for Use of District-Owned Vehicle to the Assistant Superintendent for General Finance and Administrative Services. To make sure a vehicle is available for the date(s) required, a minimum of two weeks advance notice is recommended. Approval to use a District-owned vehicle may be based on availability of vehicles as well as the cost comparison to other methods of transportation. In instances in which use of a District-owned vehicle is authorized, no personal use of the vehicle is allowed. Mileage reimbursement is not applicable in this situation.

Other Types of Ground Transportation and Miscellaneous Transportation Expenses: The District or ESU No. 19 may reimburse employees for other reasonable and necessary ground transportation such as cab fare, shuttle fare, etc. In addition, reimbursement may be made for necessary parking and toll charges incurred while traveling on District or ESU No. 19 business. The original receipt of payment should support the Request for Reimbursement. Fines incurred for parking and traffic violations are not reimbursable.

If an employee is involved in an accident while on District or ESU No. 19 business, the accident should be reported to the local police, the car rental company - if the car is a rental, the employee's insurance company - if the car is employee owned, and the Workers Comp/Insurance Management Office at (531) 299-0808. If an accident involves a District vehicle, the Transportation Office should be contacted at (402) 572-5985. Information will be provided with the vehicle regarding contacts for any accident occurring after business hours.