There have been many concerns expressed about the Warren County School District’s reconfiguration options. Many of these have to do with transportation.
In a community engagement session Tuesday night, Director of Transportation Mike Kell detailed the changes that will be required for all potential reconfiguration plans before the school board.
“Transportation is important in our region,” He said. “We travel about 10,000 miles every day. The schools are open.”
“We’ll go over the different options that the council has been looking at from a transportation perspective,” he said. He said.
There were some prerequisites in his assessments. No student will be on the bus each day for more than 1 hour round trip. Primary and secondary school days will continue to start and end at the same times.
He pointed out that the cost of transportation is subsidized by the state by about 69 percent. The district pays its transportation bills in advance and gets all but 31 percent back the following year.
“We spend about $5 million a year on transportation and the state has been giving us about $3.4 million in subsidies.” He said.
Most options will cost the area more.
He said transporting Sheffield High School students to Warren District High School would take one additional truck. “I have nine buses that take about 450 students to Sheffield.”
“I had 314 students go to K-8. I can cover that with six buses,” He said. He said bringing 140 high school students to WAHS would require the existing three remaining buses and one van — which would collect students from the Cherry Grove area.
Adding a truck and putting more miles on three buses will add to the district’s expenses.
“The total cost of WCSD, after payment, will be $24,900,” Keel said.
Moving Youngsville High School to Eisenhower and Warren High Schools would be more difficult and expensive.
“We use 11 buses to transport 475 children to Youngsville Elementary School or Youngsville Intermediate High School,” Keel said.
Eight of those will still be needed to carry students in grades K-8.
“I would need four buses and five shuttle vans … to transport 173 students to Eisenhower High School, and a minibus and a shuttle van … to transport 26 students to WAHS,” He said.
Shuttle buses will collect distant students. “I will use the trucks to take the children to a key point and then take them by bus.” He said. By the way, we are doing this today. We’ll have a pickup truck that drives around the backwaters of Tediot, taking the kids to TCCS and then taking the bus to Youngsville.”
“we do it,” He said. “It’s possible. It just adds a little bit of complexity. If one vehicle fails, you’re now affecting two vehicles.”
“The financial impact for me to add two more buses and five more trucks, the total cost would be about $104,000…that is, after payment,” Keel said.
This requires seven additional drivers. He said. “Our driver pool is very tight.”
The district contracts with carriers for its bus needs, does not own buses, and does not pay drivers directly.
The proposal to convert the attendance schools in Youngsville into K-12 campuses like those in Sheffield and Eisenhower would save the district money.
“I wouldn’t change anything.” In terms of transportation, Keel said. There will be a few students who take the bus to campus.
“There will be an additional compensation of about $2,000 if we go to one campus in Youngsville because I will be transporting more kids,” he said. He said.
The option that would move Eisenhower High School students to Youngsville and Warren adds the most cost to the district, Kell said.
“I currently have 17 buses taking 646 children to EMHS or EES,” He said. “Eisenhower will divide roughly in the middle. The towns of Farmington and Pine Grove will go to Warren.”
These 135 students are going to Warren on four buses.”
Another 105 went to Youngsville on three buses.
“This plan requires me to add five more buses,” He said. The total cost after payment will be $117,000.
Keel also looked at what it would take to get high schools to have equal numbers of students in them.
in the central attendance area, “I use 60 buses to transport 1,260 students” He said. “Under this plan, going north, he adds 67 students to Eisenhower’s population and I have to do it with two buses. Youngsville, we’ll add 118 students. I can do it with three buses and one truck. For Sheffield, I’ll pick up 149 students at the east end of Warren. I’ll need three buses.” To do that “.
These are not all “new” buses. “I can repurpose some buses.”
Multiple buses pass through the same densely populated areas.
“In the east end of Warren I have about five buses carrying about 500 students,” Keel said.
Instead of them all picking up primary and secondary school students and heading towards Conewango Street, some of them will only take high school students and head east to Sheffield.
“I’ll just have to add one more bus and one more truck,” He said. “The total cost will be $39,000 after payment.”
“In each of the options you talked about, the flight time will be within that hour?” asked board member Joe Colosimo.
“That’s right. Every single one of them,” Keel said. “The first pick-up until the school drop-off time will take 1 hour” or less.