October 10, 2006
Transportation and Education
An article in Sunday's O (Buses eat up classroom dollars) outlines how 5% of the state's education spending goes to buses, and the way reimbursement from the state is handled, there are few incentives to try to make this more efficient.
The Oregon Department of Education picks up the tab on most every dollar school districts spend on transportation, from purchasing fuel to buying new school buses to building mechanic shops.
Rural districts, such as the 185-student Jewell School District in Clatsop County with its far-flung bus routes, get back 90 percent.
Economic analysts say such an open-ended match for reimbursing expenses is rare. It doesn't force the Oregon Department of Education to track how much fuel districts use or encourage school leaders to share money-saving tips.
Time for smarter thinking?
October 10, 2006 10:01 AM
Terry Parker Says:
Last I heard there are less than 30 school age children in housing in The Pearl District. SoWhat so far for the most part is not even being designed to house families. The Albina property at NE 33rd and Broadway that has yet to pass final design review is planned to have 319 housing units along with commercial development on about seven acres. Most of the housing will be studios and one bedroom units with a few two bedroom units thrown in. No three bedroom or family units are currently included in the plan even though Fernwood School is two blocks away and Grant High School is only a short walking distance away. Within the boundaries of the Portland neighborhood I live in there were once three public schools. Two are now closed and the icon school which has always been at the center of the neighborhood activity will close after this year. That will leave a 40 plus block gap between grade schools and per federal standards, will require some bussing of students.
Enrollment in Portland schools is declining. If Portland is rethinking with compact high density development, costly alternative mode transport subsidies and anti-auto planning, it isn’t working. It is driving families to locate in the suburbs where more bussing of students will be required.
October 10, 2006 10:17 AM
Chris Smith Says:
Terry, can I read that to mean you would favor City regulations to require more diversity of housing unit types in new development?
October 10, 2006 11:02 AM
Frank Dufay Says:
It is driving families to locate in the suburbs where more bussing of students will be required.
Not necessarily. When my daughter lived in Rock Creek (185th & Sunset Highway) many years ago, her High School, Glencoe, eliminated busing as a budget cut package. She ended up getting to school --eight miles away-- by carpooling with her friends at high school...something to warm a father's heart. :-(
The increasing reliance on "magnet schools" versus community schools is seriously damaging the Portland school district, and leading to all kinds of wasteful, unnecessary travel.
And yes, Chris, we need FAR more diversity in our new developments...and be really building places for families. Instead of Transit-Oriented-Development susidies maybe what's called for is FAMILY-Oriented-Development.
October 10, 2006 11:08 AM
Evan Manvel, BTA Says:
We'd love to allow school districts to spend money to encourage kids to walk and bike and get reimbursed under the bus formula. Right now, the financial formula discourages local school districts from being interested in converting bus trips to active trips.
In the long run, we'd have healthier, more alert, smarter kids.
October 10, 2006 11:12 AM
Paul Edgar Says:
The independent Chalkboard Project, funded by major trusts to find solutions to education short coming in Oregon identified that a lot of money could be saved in busing and redirected back into the classrooms.
The problem with education and how dollars have been used in busing is only part of the problem where we have had the wolf guarding the hen house.
You do not have to look far just look at self serving public employees unions, teachers/education unions, the governor, the legislature, the state head of education, and all of the school boards, to explain some of this.
It again it tells you why why we have a "Chalkboard Project" and that is to try to stop some of this pervasive BS that is taking money away from the classrooms and kids.
Good Land use Planning, a lot of Common Sense and a reasonable understanding of good businesses practices would help. But it has just been hard to find that in Salem, Metro and the City of Portland
October 10, 2006 1:51 PM
dick BARNARD Says:
I commuted to school by walking to the streetcar stop and a fairly long walk from 14th Ave stop to Washington HSW, every day of my high school life, did not mind, many of the deep rural schools do require an extensive bus system to serve their students, a fact of life, and is paid for by their local property taxes, leave the existing working system alone....
October 10, 2006 2:13 PM
Ross Williams Says:
many of the deep rural schools do require an extensive bus system to serve their students, a fact of life, and is paid for by their local property taxes, leave the existing working system alone....
I don't believe this is true. My understanding was that transportation costs, like other educatoin costs, are largely paid by the state, not local property taxes. So you have a rural lifestyle that is getting very large subsidies from urban taxpayers.
October 10, 2006 5:07 PM
Michael Wilson Says:
Not quite the same, but on a related issue. As I recall in 2003 the Oregon health plan paid trimet something like $10 million to transport patients. Might be helpful to look at way to improve that.
October 11, 2006 11:09 PM
Terry Parker Says:
A “Terry, can I read that to mean you would favor City regulations to require more diversity of housing unit types in new development?”
B The simple answer is yes, however the issue is more complicated that that. Instead of all the studios and one bedroom units, in general, more family friendly housing needs to be constructed in Portland that has three bedrooms or more, and attached play yards for children with green and open spaces. There also needs to be more new single family home construction within Portland.
A “You do not have to look far just look at self serving public employees unions, teachers/education unions, the governor, the legislature, the state head of education, and all of the school boards, to explain some of this.”
B This could be called the fleecing of taxpayers. In today’s Oregonian there is an article about how the Beaverton School District plans to replace their entire bus fleet over the next eleven years, 330 busses with a cost to the district of 12 million dollars. The Oregon Department of Education will pay 29 million dollars coming from the statewide pool for classroom spending. One reasons cited for the replacement is the district “hopes” to reduce maintenance costs. The new busses however may not be more fuel efficient. My feeling is if it isn’t broken, it doesn’t need fixing. Not everything has to be brandy new either. This bus replacement program could also be called the fleecing of taxpayers.
October 12, 2006 3:46 PM
Jason McHuff Says:
Isn't one of the Portland City Commissioners trying to get some money to encourage families to live in inner Portland?
Overall, it seems like a waste to have districts that can't build classrooms fast enough while schools in other, nearby districts are closing. Adding the school buses that the new schools are more likely to need (since the suburbs are less walkable and they can't use TriMet as a substitute like Portland can) just makes it worse. You can thank the home builders who block school system development charges for this one.