Could NK Schools Find Big Savings in Bus Services?

The North Kingstown School Committee looked at an audit of the schools transportation services.


An audit of the North Kingstown School Department’s transportation services may yield almost a quarter-million dollars in savings for the district with its recommendation. This Tuesday, the North Kingstown School Committee looked at an audit from TransPar Group, which looked at bus routes, efficiency and cost analysis.

The report made three major recommendation – reducing one full-size bus from regular rotation, reduce runs for students attending private schools Monsignor Clarke and The Prout School from two buses to one, and consolidating minibus runs. In total, these recommendations could save the district up to $242,400.

NK’s student transportation services are split into two categories: 21 full-size contracted buses (providing bus service to NK schools, Monsignor Clarke and Prout School) and 15 district-owned, mini-buses (providing NK’s special needs, private school and out-of-district students at 15 schools throughout Rhode Island).

According to the audit, NK’s contracted buses cost $409 per bus per day to operate, totaling $1,546,000 per year. On the minibus side, it each bus each day costs $529 to run for a total cost of $1,429,295. In all, North Kingstown schools spend $2.9 million on the transportations of its students.

Using data collected from many Rhode Island school districts in 2009, TransPar found that NKSD has higher transportation costs per student. Part of the reason behind this is the inclusion of bus monitors on all regular education bus routes along with the district’s pay packages.

The cost disparity between contracted and minibuses is caused in large part by the fact that district buses have paraprofessionals while contracted buses have monitors. NKSD’s pay and benefits programs are more costly, the report states. Minibus drivers are paid an average of $102.17 per day (assuming an eight-hour day), paraprofessionals are paid an average of $86.64 per day (average hourly rate of $15.95) and monitors are paid between $8,50 and $9.50 per hour (averaging four hours per day).

“It appears that the culmination of paying the drivers for an eight hour day, plus the benefit package causes the District’s bus operating costs to well exceed that of the contractor,” states the report.

TransPar suggested the school district look into reducing its transportation costs to get them in line with contractors’ costs. If that is not possible, TransPar suggests NK turn to contracting for all of its transportation services. According to NKSD Business Director Mary King, many school districts have already outsourced these services to the state.

Another recommendation was to improve the efficiency of bus routes. Currently, NK’s contracted buses are utilized 66 percent of the time with only 54 percent of the seats being filled. The “ultimate performance standard” is to utilize 80 percent of the seats 80 percent of the time. TransPar suggested reducing buses from 19 to fewer than 18, cutting two from North Kingstown High School and one run from Davisville Middle, SMH-Quidnessett Elementary and Forest Park Elementary schools, potentially saving the district $73,600 per year.

Optimizing the bus service to Msgr. Clarke and Prout was a hot topic of discussion for the North Kingstown School Committee Tuesday night. Two buses transport students to each school, with an average of 13 and 14 riders. The report suggests consolidating the two buses into one, as the schools are only two miles apart from each other, saving the district $73,600.

Though a good idea in theory, North Kingstown School Department Transportation Coordinator John Horan told the committee that its application could pose more problems for the district.

“If we were to combine the buses into one route, my best estimate is that the last kid would not be getting dropped off until 5:15 or 5:30 p.m.,” said Horan, as the bus route would range from Saunderstown to Forge Road, practically in East Greenwich.

School Committee Member Larry Ceresi suggested creating a central drop-off spot at the high school for these students to minimize the length of these runs. By state law, the school district is required to provide transportation services to North Kingstown students to their respective schools.

“The layout of this town is very difficult, more difficult than I think people realize,” said Ceresi. “There’s got to be a little give and take. If you want your child picked up at your door and want them back at a certain time, there has to be a little give and take.”

NKSD nabbed commendations for its efficient four-tiered bell schedule that allows for buses to run more efficiently, allowing time between start times of each school. TransPar did, however, suggest adding five to 10 minutes for the middle school buses to complete their runs in the afternoon, freeing up one or two buses.


Politics Sheriff of NK January 31, 2013 at 03:32 AM
Boscardin does a great job. I was really surprised and happy to be surprised. I will vote FOR him should he run again. Give these SC people a break. It's not like the old days with riff-raff like Defedele and Hueston and Defrances all handing the store away and insulting the taxpayers while they kissed Halleys butt. Those are all gone. Look at the TC now that still needs to be fixed.
ru4real January 31, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Simply put your conjecture is like Swiss cheese full of holes.The union issue is so far off the mark it's laughable. Never been a union member and never would be. I'm not real good at being dictated to in any form by anyone. Lean budget that's real funny. Wasn't there a hidden shortfall, supposedly, that miraculously was covered when the public outrage forced the SC and the bloated administration to pony up. Where did the $ come from in such a lean budget? Can you say accounting tomfoolery that is the school budget. Can you say shell and pee game or the time tested bait and switch tactic. Enrollment is down & expenses up (please don't cry fixed) and the end product is dumbing down continually. But bonus' are given, sounds like a great business model to me. Very lean. As I stated earlier mediocrity is the accepted product and is touted by the administration and the SC as a wonderful educational experience, remember the remedial issue! I notice that you don't bother to address any of these issues. You attack me for telling the truth, how quaint! If that budget underwent true independent forensic auditing, not chosen by the SC or TC, I'm told that there would be some interesting revelations. But that will never happen. People like you don't really want to know the truth. You like the kool-aid. Have another sip, better yet drink the whole cup. Faster is better than by a thousand cuts.
E January 31, 2013 at 03:08 PM
The mentality of, "The answer is NO... what's the question?" in relation to the bus issue will get us nowhere - fast. It's up to Dr. Auger and SC members to work smarter, not harder to collectively create solutions that will positively impact NK families. A great step in the right direction was to have TransPar scrutinize the trans. system in place. Contracting out bus services is a great idea for starters! I am interested to learn HOW the efficiency of bus routes can be improved from the current 66% utilization and 54% capacity. I think the 80% goals of both utilization and capacity is an attainable one, with some honest to goodness, REAL attention given to this issue. What about consolidation of bus routes? This would require a PERSON, not a COMPUTER to analyze the current bus stops/routes of all NK buses. Forming a subcommittee to actually ride our buses, observe, take notes, confer w/ drivers and parents, then make recommendations, may be something the Supt. and SC members could do to "work smarter." Being told that there's no $$, go to the TC w/ your concerns is such a "pass the buck" answer when I bring up this issue. Here's your budget, here are your expenditures, make it work. You were hired, elected to creatively problem - solve... let's see what you can come up with. Changing start/end times didn't work this year. People HATE it. There is a solution better than this, it's just waiting to be found! :)
Alizy Caplon July 10, 2013 at 04:37 PM
I'm agreed with "E" i think that's name is on last post. http://www.gtapearsonlimo.ca/services.php


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