The spinning is going on about how much transportation costs will be impacted by Wake County's new student assignment plan.
School administrators said Tuesday that it could could cost five to 25 additional buses because of the grandfathering that will be employed over the next few years as the plan is phased in. Administrators said they expect costs to drop below current levels once the grandfathering of current students ends.
"It is indeed ironic that the proposed assignment policy would involve higher transportation costs than the nationally-acclaimed integration policy that it replaced because the entire point of the proposed system is that it favors proximity and stability," Schofield writes.
Let's go over how Wake did the transportation analysis, using this handout.
The analysis was done using data from the online test drive hat indicated that 94 percent of current students will grandfather at their current school. They're also projecting again that, based on 2010-11 data, 40 percent of rising kindergartners will attend the same elementary school that their older siblings are now at.
Staff estimates that 7,000 rising kindergartners and 6 percent of students in other grades could choose a change in their assignments.
On the high range, staff said Wake could need 15 to 25 additional buses.
On the low range, in which regional choices are used as opposed to countywide choices, it's projected that five to 10 additional buses could be needed.
A big reason for the extra buses is that the plan calls for continuing to provide transportation to students who grandfather at their current school, even when it's outside their new feeder pattern.
"The bottom line is there is a cost to grandfathering because you’re implementing two plans at once," said Superintendent Tony Tata.
Tata said the grandfathering needs to be provided to give parents the stability they want for their children.
James Overman, head of the student assignment task force, said it will take about five years before the matriculation patterns caused by grandfathering disappear. He said over that time transportation costs will drop as more students go to school closer to home.
School board vice chairman John Tedesco asked if the savings could be greater than the amount of additional buses needed. Overman said that was a likely result.
Tedesco asked if staff would have an estimate of how many fewer buses will be needed after full implementation of the new assignment plan. That data is expected at the Oct. 4 board meeting.
School board member Kevin Hill asked how much a new bus costs. The answer is $87,000.
But Bob Snidemiller, senior director of transportation, said they can take advantage of a program where they can borrow buses from the state for up to 18 months for free. He said some districts have turned buses in to the state in recent years to cut costs.
Even though the buses are free, Snidemiller said Wake would need to pay for fuel and maintaining the vehicles. Plus, Wake would have to pay the salaries of any new drivers who are hired.
Snidemiller said districts are required by the state to have enough reserve buses equal to 10 percent of the fleet to cover emergencies.
Wake has 933 active buses with 1,012 in total.
Tata said Wake would just need to have, in the initial implementation years, enough buses in reserve to cover the state requirement.
The blog post was written by Matt Ellinwood.