WakeEd

The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui. While Keung posts information and analysis on the issues, keep us posted on your suggestions, questions, tips and what you're doing to cope with the changes in Wake's schools.

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More than $2 million in costs related to Wake County's choice-based student assignment plan

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New figures presented at Tuesday's Wake County school board meeting show more than $2 million worth of additional costs associated with the choice plan.

The biggest item is $1,089,643 that staff says is transportation operational costs for additional miles per day. The money covers funds for diesel fuel, oil, tires and parts for driving an additional 13,200 miles per day "with choice plan."

When the removal of 53 buses from the road led to transportation problems at the start of the school year, Wake responded by putting most of them back in service. Wake says they've paid $840,000 for 24 additional buses and drivers.

You've also got $248,941 that Wake is paying for the bus driver attendance bonus plan to get more drivers to show up for work while the new drivers underwent training.

Also you've got $96,000 to transfer funds to cover Michael Alves for his student assignment choice plan contract.

All four items are from the school system's "Potential Changes in Local Expenditures First Quarter as of Sept. 30, 2012" report. Staff reports each quarter to the board on budget adjustments.

UPDATE

Click here to view the report referenced.

1352907266 More than $2 million in costs related to Wake County's choice-based student assignment plan The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Capping schools

Here's my question as some make a big deal about the cost of busing as it related to the choice plan:  Once numerous schools are capped with respect to attendance, won't those children who are new to the closed school neighborhoods have to be bussed somewhere else?  How much is that expected to cost?  I'm guessing they haven't yet begun to think about that -- it's one of those pesky details that taints the message.  

Is there a material distinction between being bussed due to capped attendance and being bussed as a result of the choice plan?  What is it?         

They won't truly cap schools

They won't be able to handle the fallout.

And ain't it good to see our board CPA take charge over the costs of things. As usual, she's right on top of it.

Only $2 million for choice plan?

Only $2 million for the choice plan? That sounds like a deal. That is a very small percentage of a billion dollar budget and it gives parents options in their child(ren)'s education and offers an effective solution to the endless controversies over busing. For about $13 per student system-wide familes are empowered with choice. But, while we are on the subject, what does it cost to bus magnet students all over the county and provide them with the electives and specialized teaching only they have access to? How much bigger share of the pie do magnet students get than typical students who does not get to enjoy the same level of academic riches? I bet my life savings it is more than $13 per student.

if I were Gurley and Coble

I would tell WCPSS that they may submit the budget in an XLS spreadsheet - full budget, nothing missing, to the dime. I would then have an accountant break it down by TDA and MOE per school on a PER CHILD basis. I would then make graphs and a table and present it at a CC meeting, with both the raw data and table available to the press. 100% transparency. The reason that moderate democrats and republicans have has such a hard time changing things is that the machine (extremist politicians and the media) controls the flow of information to the public, the public only understands what they are told or what they feel personally.

The same needs to be done for capacity, academic achievement and course offerings. It needs to be presented to the community as raw information, then let the community decide if it ok that we have schools that have nothing and schools that have a ridiculous amount of excess. My guess is that no one has a clue how many schools we have that are under enrolled, yet we want to pass a bond to build more schools?

The real cost...

Of the choice plan, particularly related to transportation, was never clearly projected. If the initial discussion had included the TWO MILLION DOLLAR price tag the plan would never have gone beyond the proposal stage.

And since it seems to have cost the superintendent his job, I guess the real price is $2.25 million.

What a sad waste of public funds - and at a time when tax revenues are down, the system is furiously cutting back everywhere, staff and teachers have had no meaningful raises in several years, and many new schools have yet to be built.

as a parent in the base schools

I really resent that transportation is made an issue when I finally was given a choice of where my kids go to school. Finally. As in for the first time in the last 12 years.

I did not complain about it when we were bused to our 5th most proximate school to provide balance, I complained about the screwed up funding formula that left our Title I school severely underenrolled and under funded.

Transportation is not what costs our schools the most, it is neglect and politics and mismanagement.

Keep going, your focus on one easy target is pathetic.

...

How much is magnet busing? Why is that choice OK but the rest of us can go pound sand?

#crickets

So where, exactly, are all the right-wing yahoos who have spent YEARS complaining about the busing costs of the previous student assignment plan NOW?

#crickets

I am a democrat

who never complained about the cost of busing in either plan, I think that whatever works to get schools to full capacity will save money in the end.

The problem with looking at transportation in isolation is that it is meaningless. Did we increase transportation by $2 million but increase capacity at the rim schools by 25%? Did we stay steady with enrollment and not lose market share again? As you know finances are about revenue and expenditure and liability. What is the big picture here?

Looking at Neter's budget is impossible and he won't share it as an excel spreadsheet, but recently I saw an app that lets you turn a pdf into an xls file - I am honestly looking forward to using it on the next budget.

Yes...

The budget documents are generally horrible -- it's baseline budgeting that says, in effect "We moved $5 from account A to account B," but won't tell you how big A and B are.

Diarrhea

That's what you left-wing loonies have spent your entire lives generating, the same ole diarrhea you've always spewed.

As for me, I'll continue to ring the bell of reality and complain about transporting your children back and forth, forth and back until I puke.

If you own a car, have a job and claim you child as your own,

YOU SHOULD DO THE DRIVING!

Then there would never be a disagreement about transportation and we could actually spend that money to build a real world class school system.

Instead of lying to people and acting like we have one!

did you even read what I wrote

or did you see the word democrat and stop there?

I can be a Dem

if conditions warrant, which they rarely do in this state.

Do you agree with this, if you own a car, have a job, have kids in this floundering school system, have 2 good legs, 2 good eyes (maybe even one) aren't on welfare (and maybe even then),

YOU SHOULD BE THE CHAUFFEUR?

Actually, I think we'd be

Actually, I think we'd be spending more on highways if we had individual family vehicles delivering 150,000 kids to schools throughout the county.

...

What were the busing costs of the previous assignment plan? Please enlighten.

.

.

2 points

first, we knew the choice plan was going to cost more. Tata to said so. This was because it would take some time to switch over everybody who was grandfathered.

second, it is not clear what the base line is here. It sounds as if they are counting buses that had to be added after the beginning of the year, but ignoring the bus is that were taken away in advance of the beginning of the year.so, the number itself seems a bit faulty.

Good points but consider

Bob,

What your forgetting and what I see as causing part of Tata's downfall is he never pushed the CCs for more money for the implementation of the plan.  I don't know why he had the disconnect Was it poor planning?  Was it politics? 

He correctly stated that the choice plan was going to cost more.  That's a fair statement....and one reason mentioned is because of grandfathering.  But then if you remember to retain teaching positions they extracted money from the transportation budget  and made some pretty gross assumptions on improving transportation efficiencies meet the state formula.  If I remember correctly it was approximately 3 to 4m total that was then applied to retain teaching positions.  

So at one point he says it costs more to transportation but yet they budgeted less transportation dollars.  So either his staff failed in the planning stage or he pushed his staff to make things work even though with the amount of money resulted in an infeasible solution. (AKA - bussing fiasco).  My view is it may have been a combination of both.  At some point in the planning/implementation of the plan a red flag should have gone up to request additional money from the county commissioners.  It never happened and the rest is history.  

I agree with your second

I agree with your second point. They took too many buses off the road in the beginning of the year. There were not enough buses even for base-assigned kids. But it is so politically convenient to blame everything on a 'choice' plan.

By the way, is there a figure in buses/fuel/mileage for magnet schools?

Shhh, don't ask about Magnet schools

I hear those parents have GSIW, and a few other political gangs, in their corner to fight off the rest of us. They are trying to avoid the inevitable street brawl and take over of school board meetings.

And I hear Kevin Hill is like Dr. Laura, can't handle confrontation, so they want to try and keep his panties dry.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
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