Yet another very brief meeting tonight. Aside from mostly routine items on the agenda, the Board heard an update on general education transportation cuts/planning for 2013-14 and also changes to the staffing of the Parents Advisory Council (PAC).
I’ve noted in the past that the Board has directed staff to cut general education transportation, and also align what transportation resources remain to help meet our student assignment and parent engagement goals. Since 2010-11, the number of general education buses serving schools has decreased from 44 to 30; in 2013-14 that number will fall to 25. Those cuts have been motivated by budgetary concerns because we have not been able to justify keeping a high-cost transportation program (roughly $100,000 per bus in service per year, excluding special education buses ) while cutting back classroom services –especially because the state has continually cut back home-to-school transportation funding. Continuing to fund a robust transportation program in the face of these cuts means taking money away from the general fund, which pays for general education teachers, textbooks and classroom supplies.
After absorbing the cuts, the district must continue working on realigning the remaining transportation resources to serve other goals — closing the achievement gap, for example, and providing equitable access to citywide programs. Right now, transportation planning is in phase one — cuts. Phase two — and this work hasn’t really begun — is the community engagement and planning work that must be part of realigning our admittedly insufficient transportation resources to make sure those resources are supporting our district priorities.
In the meantime, here are the transportation cuts announced for 2013-14:
- All general education transportation services to ER Taylor ES, Gordon J Lau ES and New Traditions ES will be eliminated, affecting 44, 24 and 22 morning riders, and 48, 20 and 17 afternoon riders, respectively;
- Service to Aptos MS from the Mission (affecting 57 morning riders and 56 afternoon riders) will be eliminated (service from Carver ES and Starr King ES was added for 2012-13);
- Service to Hoover MS from the Bayview (affecting 20 morning riders and 27 afternoon riders) will be eliminated (service to Hoover from Moscone ES and Serra ES was added for 2012-13.
The other major announcement at the meeting was the departure of Ruth Grabowski, who has served for more than eight years as the staff coordinator of the district’s Parent Advisory Council. Board members expressed sincere gratitude for Ruth’s contributions to the PAC’s work over the years — the PAC has been exemplary in its commitment to diversity, parent engagement and respectful but pointed critiques of district actions and initiatives and Ruth has played a major role in these efforts.
Happily, Ruth is not going far — she will now be working for the school district and helping to lead our efforts in parent and community engagement; Georgia Bratt-Williams, a current PAC member, will take over her position as PAC staff coordinator.
It’s too bad that all those kids who currently walk or take the 23 Monterey to Aptos from contiguous Sunnyside and Miraloma neighborhoods are now slated to feed to Denman, which is across a freeway and past one of the most dangerous pedestrian intersections in the city. Has their been any thought to realigning the feeders now that the transportation budget is being so drastically cut?
I’ve asked for those numbers but don’t have them yet — I imagine, though, that today there are fewer kids going from Carver and Starr King to Aptos than there are students on the Mission bus that is being eliminated. Though having a bus eliminated is painful for families who depend on that bus, remember that the district has to cut five buses from somewhere in order to get to 25 buses from 30. In addition, the longer-term plan is to make sure bus service aligns with the new (ish) student assignment plan. The Starr King families are feeding into Aptos and some of those families will need transportation to get there. Similarly, Carver now feeds to Aptos — so there is a need for transportation for some of those families, too.
Question on the Aptos bus cancellation. How many kids are riding the Carver/Starr King bus? Is it anywhere near the 57 on the Mission bus?