A post by Alexia Ober (4/1/2008, 13:59) asked about transportation in the 2 1/2 school model.

As was stated at last night's School Committee Public Forum and again at the Committee meeting that followed, our administrators are looking at 20+ transportation scenarios that are attempting to take into account objectives including the following.

  • Target 600 students at Claypit Hill (CH) and 400 at Happy Hollow (HH)
  • Achieve feasible numbers at each grade level at each school within class size policy
  • Aim for commensurate enrollment changes at both schools over time
  • Eliminate (or at least minimize) redistricting of small numbers at CH and HH
  • Don't split families between CH and HH
  • Avoid splitting neighborhoods where possible
  • Keep ride times under 40 minutes
  • Minimize transportation cost

The Superintendent has stated that he expects to meet most if not all of these objectives by deploying the same number of buses as the current year and keeping within a cost increase of 15%. He and the Committee have acknowledged that should this budget not be met, (as yet unidentified) cuts will have to be made elsewhere in the system.

Note that if this 15% increase is low by a factor of 2, that an additional $90k would be required above and beyond the budget amount. Of that $90k, on the order of half would be due to transportation at the elementary level, and less than half of that would be due to the added ridership resulting from the 2 1/2 school model. In short, this $20k or so excess transportation cost would not come close to offsetting the $400k personnel savings that comes with the 2 1/2 school model.

The transportation analysis is necessarily complex and depends on the outcome of the override. On my own, and assuming passage of the override, I took a rough cut at understanding how the increased numbers that will be bused next year might fit within the current bus fleet.

1. There may be a small increase (est. +10) in CH, HH, and LO K ridership factoring in the enrollment drop, the 1.5 mile eligibility limit, and travel to Loker (LO).

2. There may be a significant decrease (est. -75) in CH and HH 1-5 riders based on the enrollment drop and the 1.5 mile limit.

3. There may be a large increase (est. +215) in LO 1-5 riders due to the combination of enrollment, the 1.5 mile limit, and travel to CH and HH.

4. The current excess capacity on the 11 buses that serve the 3 elementary schools is on the order of 250 seats.

5. Thus, a net increase of 150 riders next year may fit into an excess capacity of 250 seats this year.

Please keep in mind that these numbers are mine alone, and are not arrived at by looking at a detailed transportation model, but rather by considering enrollment numbers and making some assumptions. Depending on the option that the administration recommends, these may not reflect the actual plan that is put in place. Instead, I offer them only to show that maintaining the current bus count is possible with fairly wide margins for error.