Categorized | Education

DOE eyes reduction in student transportation budget


The state Department of Education on Tuesday discussed options for managing its student transportation costs to address anticipated budget shortfalls during the Board of Education’s Finance and Infrastructure Committee meeting.

Over the last 12 months, the DOE and the Board have been diligently working to examine alternatives to better control transportation outlays. The DOE has identified 34 possible improvement options to reduce its overhead while maintaining overall service levels.

During the committee meeting, the DOE noted annual savings of $12 million to $15 million may be achieved as current contracts expire and are replaced with contracts that offer contractors the opportunity to lease buses from the DOE.

This would enable the DOE to eventually restore most services that must be suspended because of insufficient funding in school year 2012-13.

Next school year, the DOE has projected a $22 million deficit in student transportation operations.

As rising fuel prices, labor costs, and service demands as well as a limited competitive market drive expenses upward, the DOE and Board will continue to closely work with service providers, evaluate practices to identify additional efficiencies, and improve the bidding process to stimulate competition.

“Transportation services are an important contributor to student achievement,” said Randy Moore, assistant superintendent of school facilities and support services. “The Board and Department are committed to do what they can to maintain transportation services statewide.”

The DOE will submit a request to the Board to consider its recommendation for action, if necessary, following the Legislature’s approval of the state budget.

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