The Parkland Board of School Directors advocated changing the Pennsylvania School Code to reduce the busing radius from 10 to 5 miles in a proposal submitted for inclusion on the Pennsylvania School Boards Association 2014 Legislative Platform. By reducing the radius, the Parkland School District could save nearly $500,000 annually.
In 2011-12, Parkland transported 572 private and charter students who attend schools outside the district. The average cost per student was $2,360, totaling about $1.35 million. Had the busing radius been 5 miles, Parkland would have transported 126 fewer students, saving the district about $480,000. In all, the district spent $900,000 in 2011-12 busing 815 students to 50 private and charter schools both inside Parkland and within 10 miles of the district’s radius.
Parkland’s transportation budget for 2011-12 was $7,400,000. State funding paid for only $1,460,000 of that amount. Currently, Parkland is capped at that amount of reimbursement funding and as prices increase, the transportation falls on the residents within our school district. That is the reason the School Board is advocating for legislation that would amend the School Code.
The inefficient manner of busing to schools outside the district is what drives expenses upward. When a district bus goes to a housing development, picks up 35 kids and takes them to the local elementary school, it’s a quick stop and all of the students de-bus at the same place. With charter and nonpublic schools, a bus could be picking up one kid per neighborhood then driving across the Lehigh Valley to the school.