7 More Bus Drivers Won’t Be Driving Our Buses Anymore

The Personnel Report from the December 9 Board of Education meeting showed 7 more bus drivers left and 2 took medical leave. Of the seven who are no longer employed by Hoover City Schools, five left for “Other Employment” and two retired.

That’s a total of 20 of our bus drivers that were driven away by the Board’s July 15 decision to eliminate buses.

Not to burst anybody’s bubble, but….even though Superintendent Craig stated that the “model” they are considering at this point includes Hoover City Schools employing drivers (as opposed to outsourcing, contracting, or privatizing), there are no guarantees. The Board has shown time and again that it can change its mind rapidly with no public discussion.

Here’s the Personnel Report approved at the December 9 Board meeting.

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Free the Hoover Buses!

The Facebook page has a new name: Free the Hoover Buses!

And now, our new logo:

Free Our School BusPlease share far and wide! We believe our school buses should continue transporting children to and from school at no charge to the riders. If that fee gets passed on to our students, there will be no end to the types of user fees that Hoover and other school districts can push off on parents and families who depend on our public schools to educate their children.

Let’s get this right. Let’s solve this!

 

Let’s Solve This! Budget Group Update

Everyone received an invitation to participate through this site and through the Facebook page.

A group of folks got together during the weeks around Thanksgiving to delve into the financial state of affairs of our school district. 

We met four times, for a total of 11 hours together. Everybody had homework. Everybody dug into the documents and shared dialogue via online discussion, bouncing ideas off of each other.

We spent about 200 man-hours pulling together some ideas for trimming that deficit. We planned to present these results to the board last Monday night, but with their decision to reinstate buses, we chose to savor the moment instead, and garnered a commitment from the board to sit down with us in the coming days to start this dialogue.

Once the board has been given the recommendations of this group, we will post it online here. In no way is it a “here’s where cuts need to be made” recommendation. Rather, it is a place to start.

We believe that the entire community needs to be engaged in this discussion, and we hope that by getting the discussion started, we can open up the dialogue for all interested community members.

Communities work best when we reach consensus about how to allocate our resources.

Stay tuned for more information.

The Reaction and the Reality – Next Steps

SavedHere’s a wrap up of how the past week unfolded, told through Twitter.

That’s the Reaction. Here’s the Reality: even though we saved our buses,  the problem of a $12 million operating deficit looms large. And now they’re threatening to charge children who depend on the bus a fee for riding the bus. The board couldn’t tell us what that fee might be nor when they’ll know.

Which means our work is not even close to being over. We need everyone to stay in this effort.

Let’s be extraordinary. School communities are criticized for showing up when they’re about to lose something, and once they get what they want, they go back home and ignore the rest of the problem. Let’s not be that community. We can’t afford to be that community.

Cause the folks in charge of making the decisions haven’t changed. And they’re still charged with making big decisions.

The board who reinstated our buses is the same board that eliminated them.

The superintendent who thought this was the right way to deal with money troubles is still the superintendent.

The central office people who went along with this decision are still working in the central office.

The City Council who agreed with the decision to eliminate buses are still our city leaders.

The Mayor who thought we’d be fine without buses is still the Mayor.

The PTA and PTO leaders who said not a single word in support of reinstating the buses are still the same people.

The Chamber of Commerce, the civic groups, the teachers, the principals…all of the people who stood by and said absolutely nothing in support of reinstating buses are still here.

In short: nothing has changed. The people in charge of making this decision, the people who made this decision and supported this decision are still the ones in charge of making decisions.

Without the Department of Justice’s involvement and the current desegregation order, there would have been no immediate consequence to the board’s decision to eliminate buses.

We must remain vigilant. We must stay informed. We must continue to attend meetings, share information, and step up when the time comes to lend our voice to the discussion of how our community’s tax dollars are best allocated to educate the children in our Hoover community.

There will be many opportunities to share your gifts and talents in the battle to right the financial ship.

Thank you for your efforts. Through collective, collaborative efforts, we made this happen. The Department of Justice made this happen.

Celebrate. Re-energize. There is a long long road ahead.

We need each other. 

We will meet on Sunday at the Hoover Public Library (check the facebook page for the exact location) at 4:00 p.m. We will be making plans for the coming weeks. Sorry for the short notice. We just this moment decided to meet. Please join us.

We Got Our Buses Back! But…..

At Monday’s Board of Education meeting, the Board rescinded their decision to eliminate buses. Which means the children of Hoover got their buses back!

But.

Superintendent Andy Craig stated that the model that has emerged is one where students would pay a user fee to ride the bus. It was unclear whether this meant that those fees would only apply to transportation to and from school or whether that would be the case any time a student boarded a bus (as in field trips, athletic or other extracurricular trips).

The fee would be based on whatever the difference is in what the state provides for transportation and what the remaining unfunded portion is. Craig said that he is working with Alabama State Department of Education Chief of Staff Dr. Craig Pouncey to determine exactly what the unfunded cost of providing transportation actually is.

Certainly any amounts for transportation or employees that were not directly related to transporting students to and from school would be removed from the equation. Right?

Craig has said all along that the unfunded amount of student transportation was $2.5 million for FY13. However, state Student Transportation Director Joe Lightsey told al.com that the amount is only $1.5 million.

[You may remember that we calculated the actual savings if non-special-education student transportation was eliminated to be only $850,000. Our calculation did not determine the current unfunded amount, only what the savings would be if general education transportation was eliminated but special education transportation was continued. Apples and oranges. Just want to keep the numbers clear.]

Al.com’s Jon Anderson calculated the cost per rider, on a sheer TOTAL UNFUNDED AMOUNT/NUMBER OF RIDERS to be

  • $380 a year per student if the unfunded amount is $2.5 million, or
  • $228 a year per student if the unfunded amount is $1.5 million.

However, the amount is actually unknown. And getting to that Actual Unfunded Amount is the key for Hoover’s families who depend on bus transportation.

But.

The U.S. Attorney’s office has gone on the record here, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) has gone on the record here to say that any plan would have to be cleared to ensure that access to public schools would not be impeded by charging that fee.

But.

State Department Chief of Staff Craig Pouncey said the state department is open to allowing city districts to charge user fees for buses.

But.

State Department Transportation Director Lightsey said that any fee would have to accommodate children eligible for free or reduced lunch prices.

Bottom line: we must stay vigilant.

We are just getting started.

Stay tuned for meeting announcements.