At Monday’s Board of Education meeting, the Board rescinded their decision to eliminate buses.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!
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.
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.
Bottom line: we must stay vigilant.
We are just getting started.
Stay tuned for meeting announcements.