Transportation changes expected to save district $500,000 to $800,000
The Bethlehem Central School District is expected to save between $500,000 and $800,000 as a result of changes made this year to consolidate and increase walking distances to bus stops.
The changes were proposed during last year’s budget process as a means to preserve educational programs.
“While we understand this change has been difficult for some families and students, and the process is ongoing, we are extremely pleased that the district has been able to realize savings without compromising the safety or well-being of our students,” said Dr. Thomas J. Douglas, superintendent of schools.
Chief Business and Financial Officer Judith Kehoe, who recently presented the information to the Board of Education, said the potential savings would be toward the lower end of this estimate if changes later in the year necessitate additional routes, or toward the upper end if we continue on this same course. Situations that might cause new routes to be added could be changes in ridership, particularly during the winter months, when more students may opt to ride the buses. If the additional ridership causes recurring over-capacity issues, routes could be added.
Any savings from the route changes will help close the shortfall for this year, where the budget includes the use of $1,750,000 in fund balance. Any unspent funds from this year can be used to offset costs in the 2013-14 school budget.
In addition to the consolidation of stops, the Transportation Department also eliminated the Head Mechanic position, three floating sub positions, the BEAT program, and reduced transportation of private/parochial students from 16 to 15 miles. These reductions, among others, enabled a reduction of $175,000 in the 2012-13 budget.
“It’s important to note that one thing that will never be cut from the BC Transportation Department is our dedication to the safety of the students in our care,” said Transportation Director Al Karam. “We continue to maintain a department that is focused on getting kids to and from school as efficiently and safely as possible.”