Education

NC bill would cut funds for school buses

Posted May 28, 2014
Updated May 29, 2014

School bus stop sign

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would reduce funds for school buses over the next five years.

The House bill would limit the number of spare buses and their replacement parts, while revising the state inspection process for school bus maintenance.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Julia Howard (R-Davie, Forsyth), says the legislation would make school bus operations more efficient, while saving about $19 million in recurring funds over the years.

Erik Eaker, director of transportation for Lincoln County Schools, expressed some concern about the bill in a House Education Committee meeting on Tuesday. He says school districts have already seen several cuts to transportation budgets in the last few years, and that school districts, or LEAs, are absorbing escalating operational and mechanical costs.

“LEAs have made adjustments over the past few years to improve efficiency to be able to manage these escalating costs,” he says. “For most LEAs, that well has basically dried up, so any further adjustments to the funding formula will result in a budget reduction.”

Rep. Chris Whitmire, (R-Henderson, Polk, Transylvania) also expressed some concern, saying that the limited resources could impact certain counties – especially mountainous ones with long, winding roads that tend to wear out school buses.

“I just want to make sure that places that are not necessarily near and dear to the flatlands, we don’t have an unintended consequence of cutting their inventories to the point where we just have a bad situation,” he says.

Some House Education Committee members assured him and others that safety is still a number one priority when making considerations to transportation budgets, and that resources will still be available.

“We’re well aware of some of the differences that take place across the state. This bill would require that we develop a policy that would need to include such things for part inventory,” says Derek Graham, Section Chief, Transportation Services at the Department of Public Instruction.

Rep. Howard, the sponsor of the bill, also says that the cuts would not affect bus routes or the number of students served.

Along with changes to the school bus budget, the bill includes language to eliminate certain Textbook Services positions as public schools shift toward more digital resources. It would also reallocate unneeded textbook warehouse space to other state agencies.

The House Education Committee is expected to vote on the legislation in the upcoming weeks.


This report first appeared on WUNC/North Carolina Public Radio as part of their education coverage.

39 Comments

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  • Matt Wood May 29, 2014
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    Actually, "spare" buses are those that are kept on hand to substitute in when a bus breaks down, just like a spare tire replaces a flat tire.

    "Surplus" buses would be those that just sit around and never get used, ever. To keep with my analogy, this would be tires that sit around because there are no cars with the right rim size to use them.

  • NYtoNC81 May 29, 2014

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    Not to get involved in a dumb arguement, but huh?

    Unless you're paying everything in cash it sure does. Where do you think long-term debt or accrued expenses go?

  • Hippy_mom May 29, 2014

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    I couldn't agree with you more! First, if you have been by a school recent during dismissal time, you'd see how many kids don't ride the bus. There's a line of parents clogging up the roads all around the school (usually just one parent, chatting on a cellphone, waiting for their kid). Imagine if ALL kids rode the bus how many would be needed in Wake County alone. Secondly, in the rural counties, a lot of kids have no choice in the matter. There may only be one high school for the entire county where they live and if they are in the far reaches, they are stuck on a bus for a long time.

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone May 29, 2014

    So the GOP cuts services but raises taxes.

    You know that $50 tax break you got just got eaten up by the 7% sales tax on utilities just proposed. Thanks for nothing GOP.

  • Ben Sanders May 29, 2014
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    Expenses don't show up on balance sheets.

  • Kenny Dunn May 29, 2014
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    After the election I was holding out hope and open to being convinced the GOP really has the people's best interest at heart. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, they have publicly and proudly demonstrated otherwise.

  • Danny22 May 29, 2014

    Thank you, McCrory for finally making very needed changes.

  • Danny22 May 29, 2014

    They could save a lot of money if they required the kids to be at the bus stop on time. I get so tired of waiting while the bus blows and blows the horn for the irresponsible to get dressed.

  • taylorengines May 29, 2014

    Be safe But cut the waste.
    Why does every bus mechanic have to drive a bus garage vehicle home?

  • Forthe Newssite May 29, 2014
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    can I have some of what you're smoking? You couldn't be farther from the truth, but you and MEP make a great couple

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