How much of an impact would going to express busing only for Wake County magnet schools have on the program?
As noted in today's article, Superintendent Tony Tata and school board vice chairman John Tedesco don't think the potential change would have too much of an impact. Tata pointed to the recent online test drive in which more than 70 percent of participants said only having express busing wouldn't discourage them from attending magnet schools.
Tedesco pointed to how the magnet school program still turns away a few thousand students each year. Even if fewer applications come in, he said he doesn't expect the use of express busing will cause them to have fewer applicants than seats.
Vickie Adamson, president of the Ligon Middle School PTA, said a complete move to express busing would discourage some families from applying.
Adamson said some parents of elementary students aren't going to be comfortable with dropping off their children at the nearest high school to pick up the express bus. She said it will also force high schools to provide staff to watch the students should parents not be on there on time when the buses drop them off in the afternoon.
Adamson said magnet parents accept the need to have long bus rides in return for attending the schools. She said the students sleep in the morning on the bus and do their homework on the ride home.
But Tata and Tedesco say the up to two hours of ride time allowed each way for magnet students is unacceptable.
In addition, Tedesco said magnet parents need to help share in the costs of providing the programs their children receive. He said the savings from the transportation switch can be turned into classroom dollars.
“They’ve got to help out and participate,” Tedesco said of the magnet parents using express busing. “Transportation for magnet schools is not cost effective.”
The change, if implemented, could go into effect for the 2012-13 school year. Tedesco said he'd like to discuss at the Sept. 20 board meeting changing R&P to say the maximum one-way ride time would be 60 minutes.
There is precedent for this kind of change. Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools switched to express busing only for magnet schools to save money. Click here to see how CMS handles what they call shuttle buses.
This may answer some of the questions raised in the comments.
Based on the presentation at Tuesday's school board meeting, Bob Snidemiller, senior director of transportation, said the express busing proposal would only apply to runs for the magnet application students. The magnet base students would still get neighborhood bus service.
Snidemiller said he couldn't say how much savings, if any, would come from only offering express busing for magnet students. But he said it would allow them shorten ride times for all students by letting them shift more buses from magnet runs to non-magnet runs.
In terms of express service, Alvin McNeill, director of transportation operations, said Southeast Raleigh High is the only magnet school which only provide express service for magnet application students.
McNeill said some elementary magnet schools have a mixture of express and neighborhood bus service for magnet students.
McNeill said Enloe High, Carnage Middle and Ligon Middle don't use any express busing for magnet students, offering them all neighborhood service. Snidemiller said Enloe has 65 magnet student runs and 12 base student runs.
When the option was mentioned Tuesday, school board member Kevin Hill asked Snidemiller to do an analysis of how many students might not be able to participate in magnet schools if they only offered express busing.
Tedesco later countered by saying that Southeast Raleigh High still has a waiting list of students who want to attend even with only offering express busing.