The question of who has the longest bus rides was also on the minds of school board members on Tuesday.
As noted in today's article, staff stressed that voluntary magnet kids account for a majority of the longest bus rides in the district. But students who are bused for diversity also are in the group with the longest rides.
Bob Snidemiller, senior director for transportation, explained that the longest 5 percent of bus ride times have an average one-way ride of 64 minutes.
That 5 percent of routes consists of 112 runs. He said 77 of the 112 runs are serving magnet students who voluntarily chose the long rides.
He said the longest one-way run is Route 27, which takes 85 minutes each way to go from Fuquay-Varina to Ligon Middle School in downtown Raleigh. Those magnet students travel 42 miles.
Of the 35 non-magnet routes, 21 are serving traditional-calendar schools and 14 are handling year-round schools.
School board member Lori Millberg asked if those 35 routes were Raleigh ones or are for more rural routes where the kids live far apart. She said the routes could include Wake Forest students who are bused to Knightdale High because of overcrowding at Wake Forest-Rolesville High.
Alvin McNeill, transportation operations manager, said those 35 routes include "satellite" and "spot nodes," such as kids going from Raleigh to Apex.
School board member Patti Head pressed for specifics. She asked if the 35 routes include students who are bused from Southeast Raleigh to places such as Green Hope or Leesville. While she didn't say it out loud, it's clear she was talking about kids being bused for diversity.
McNeill's one-word answer was yes.
Then board members tried to downplay the significance of it saying that at most you're talking about the 35 routes serving 1,000 students out of 140,000 students in the district.
All throughout the discussion, board member Horace Tart kept insisting that 90 percent of students go to schools within a 5-mile radius of where they live.
(In case you're wondering, I did ask for the specifics on the 35 routes. Staff said they weren't able to provide the information. Board members didn't press them for it either.)
On a similar note, Don Haydon, chief facilities and operations officer, warned that everyone's ride times may go up next year due to state funding cuts. He said they might have to run fewer buses on the road.