Terese McNamee, the chief business officer for the district, addressed the district's board of trustees on Jan. 10, detailing changes to the district's transportation department and a drop in ridership. She is recommending that paying riders pay an extra 50 cents for one-way rides, an additional $60 for a half-year pass and $100 more for a full year.
She said the increased costs would not impact many students — both because ridership has dropped from a total of 448 in the 2009-10 school year to 274 in the 2012-13 school year, and because the number of students who pay the full price to ride the bus for a whole year only accounts for a little more than 5 percent of all riders. The rest of the riders pay reduced fares or qualify for free rides due to their family's low-economic status, McNamee said.
As a result of the fare increases, the district would generate about $600 more in revenue.
The drop in ridership is due in large part to the district's reshuffling of school boundaries, McNamee said, and the number of bus riders correlates almost exactly with the number of children who are attending schools that are not their neighborhood school.
While ridership has decreased and the department has seen fewer revenues from bus riders, the school district has also stopped contracting with outside agencies to transport special education students, McNamee said — a move that has saved the education organization money.
Saving money on transportation is critical, according to Superintendent Craig Goldman, as the money the district receives from the state for home-to-school transport has been cut significantly and there is no sign that it will be increased any time soon.
"We're hopeful the governor will maintain funding at current levels," Goldman said.
As the district continues to face the challenge, Goldman and McNamee said, they will work to finely tune school boundaries to get more kids going to neighborhood schools, which will lighten the load of the already strapped transportation department.