Wake school board mulls rerouting buses to save $10M
Posted February 7, 2012
Cary, N.C. — The Wake County school board considered a proposal from district staff Tuesday that would change bus routes to increase efficiency and cut costs by as much as $10 million.
The idea does have some setbacks, though. It would change arrival and dismissal times at many schools, in some cases by nearly as much as one hour.
Under the proposed bus route changes, district staff said more than 100 buses would be taken off the street, cutting down on fuel and maintenance costs. The district would cut back on the number of tiered bus routes, lengthen bus runs and increase the number of students on each run.
Broughton High School in Raleigh would start 40 minutes earlier if the proposal gets approved. Holly Springs Elementary School would dismiss students nearly an hour later, around 4 p.m.
School Board Chair Kevin Hill said the changes may seem drastic, but they could allow the district to do more with less in tough budget times.
"There were at least two (schools) that were going to be impacted by over an hour by the bell change if we go that way," Hill said. "But, if there is an opportunity to align bell schedules with more effective study by high school kids and elementary schools and save $10 million, I mean, it is a tight economy."
Jay Cornish, a father of five, said the move would cost his family a lot of money in childcare and transportation.
Student assignment remains hot topic
Another hot topic at Tuesday's board meeting was the district's new choice-based student assignment plan. Many parents who have begun using the plan said they don't like their options.
Sally Wooten wants her twins to attend Daniels Middle School because they live within walking distance, but under the new plan she isn't sure they will end up there.
"My heart aches for them because I know they are truly worried and scared about going to school with absolutely no one they know," Wooten said.
Jeff Cobb said his family lives close to Millbrook High School, but his choices for schools don't look good.
"You lose confidence in families when you do not have specific answers," Cobb said.
Superintendent Tony Tata said there are capacity concerns with few seats available at some schools and a long list of students who want in.
"I am personally talking to principals, saying 'What can you take here because you have demand or you don't have demand,'" Tata said.
Board sells surplus property
The board also on Tuesday approved the $2.6 million sale of 10 acres of land and more than 24,000 square-feet of office, bus repair and warehouse space located at its Central Services location off of Noble Road in Raleigh.
The bid could be upset if a higher offer comes in.
The board declared the property as surplus in November 2010.