Friday, June 02, 2006

Walking to School

Atomic Tumor raises questions about the change in transportation service for Oak Ridge Schools for next year, so I'll post what I know. Bus transportation will not be provided for students who live within one mile of their school. I don't know yet if that is as the crow flies, or distance by road.

How many kids are affected? 734, at current enrollment, by school as follows:
  • Robertsville Middle: 128
  • Jefferson Middle: 141
  • Glenwood Elementary: 77
  • Linden Elementary: 102
  • Willowbrook Elementary: 136
  • Woodland Elementary: 130

Some at Oak Ridge High School will be affected, but I don't have that figure -- bus ridership at the high school is a moving target, changing daily with the weather and gas prices. However, it's well known that high school students are least likely to ride the "cheese wagon" (as they call it) having the option of driving, biking, or hitching rides with friends. Even 25 years ago, riding the bus was tantamount to wearing a "kick me" sign, a fact which has not changed.

The immediate dollar value of this change is $279,408, plus a reduction of $575,000 in future capital outlay for the replacement of school buses. Obviously, we'll eliminate the oldest buses first, to delay the time before we have to buy new ones, as the State requires that we replace buses after 15 years.

NEXT UP: While nothing was done at the May 30 budget meeting, look for discussion of change in the near future in the area of bus maintenance. The City's 129% "overhead charge" on parts and labor, plus a "10% administrative fee," is far more than I would be willing to pay for service on my own vehicle, so I'm even less willing to pay it using the schools' money. Cleveland City Schools realized a substantial savings when they quit paying the City of Cleveland and hired their own mechanic... staff are now investigating whether we could save by doing the same.

Watch for the City to then decide to charge us for use of the garage at the City Service Center, but I'm not sure how they could get away with that, since part of the justification for building it was that the school system would have shared use of the garage. This year, the transportation department took several buses to a commerical garage for an oil change because the City had a backlog and couldn't get to them over a school break; the overall cost was lower, even though the buses had to be driven to Knoxville for the service (increasing fuel and payroll cost for the effort).

Anyone know a good diesel mechanic in Oak Ridge?


Anonymous mrs. eaves said...

It's disheartening to see that Willow Brook (where my kids go) will be impacted the most. I don't have updated numbers on enrollment of all the schools, but using last year's numbers, it appears that 36% of Willow Brook students will lose bus transportation, compared to the other elementary schools which will average about 25%. Willow Brook also has the highest rate of economically disadvantaged students in the system - 65.6% (the next closest is Glenwood, with 46%).
It will be interesting to see how the different demographics of the schools play into the bus cut situation and attendance rates.
Thanks for the info - it's nice to feel informed!

9:35 AM  

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