Monday, March 18, 2013


...which is here. And posting as we go...

Transporting nearly 11,000 students daily
Covering approximately 10,000 miles per day
1.8 million miles per school year

WPS School Committee Policy:
“Free transportation is granted to pupils in grades kindergarten through 12 who
reside two (2) miles or more from the school which they are entitled to attend. The
legal obligation of the School Committee in this respect is limited to provision for
transportation for elementary school children and the School Committee does have
the right, if necessary, to charge for transportation or not provide transportation at
the secondary level regardless of where the student may live.”

I'm not going to copy down all of the numbers here of buses or of how much we're spending on them...go check it out!

If we can use the midday service, it's cheaper for it to be done in house (not true of wheelchair service, which is contracted out); if there is not midday service to be used, it's cheaper for it to be contracted out.

We will need another large bus (WEMS adding 6th grade)
and adding 6 special ed buses

Economou asks why we are busing non-public ed students; Allen: various regs requiring us to do that
"The only way to get some transportation savings is to reduce transportation."
"...the only way to get transportation savings is to make very bad decisions"
Economou wants to know how to make those changes; Allen, would need to change the state law to provide those services.
O'Brien: motion to get legal clarification on what our obligations are, and is there any flexibility there?
...if we bus secondary, we have to bus all secondary (private and parochial students, as well as public students)
Rivera: "they don't conribute to the cost at all for transportation?"
Allen: and transportation doesn't count towards net school spending...could reduce transportation costs by $750,000 if we could cut those buses
Rivera comments that she's floored by this
Fuel costs? About $50,000 for price of fuel

O'Brien asks how much is fuel costs and how much is special ed increases?
Rivera asks why it goes up over the course of the year? Sometimes it's students being processed through a team through the year, but sometimes we're getting new students. Boone adds that the special ed process is a 12 month process; part of that is determining whether that requires transportation (as part of an IEP)...looked at like speech therapy, occupational therapy...

Colorio: who do parents call if they have an issue?
Hennessey: three numbers, depending on the type of transportation
508-757-1463 is Durham's dispatch for the big buses
508-755-3495 is Durham dispatch for special ed
508-799-3242 (or 3241) for special ed run by WPS 
Buses can be called directly from dispatch; Durham buses have a GPS system to determine if the bus had been where and when.

Hennessey notes that there is some leeway given to drivers as to if they can safely negotiate particular streets on slippery days.

Colorio asks if parents could pay to get on buses that are within the two miles (ugh)
Allen: fees are approved by School Committee; cautions that it's a very difficult conversation to have as well (due to free and reduced lunch-eligible students)
Boone: 73% students eligible for free and reduced lunch; we have not added fees, "create a system of the haves and the have-nots"
Colorio: there are other private schools that don't "take advantage of transportation"..why do some take advantage and some do not?

O'Brien here is referring this report to City Auditor DelSignore for review (and possible outside review); Novick says she will vote against, if it is a joint referral. Consultation with the clerk says that this is a Education subcommittee referral, so the F&O committee is not voting on this. Referral to Auditor by City Council.

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