The State College Area School District has commissioned an additional transportation analysis to aid with addressing the transportation needs of students if the district’s extended school day proposal is implemented.
Following school board approval last week, School Bus Consultants, a Missouri-based company, has begun studying the district’s transportation plan and will provide an assessment of the financial impact of the extended school day proposal. The study will cost the district about $25,000.
In April, the district paid Tyler Technologies, of Latham, N.Y., about $7,000 to conduct a study of the district’s bus routes, but the contract did not ask the company to consider the financial impacts of implementing the extended school day proposal, which adds 44 minutes to the elementary school day.
The SBC study will build upon the work Tyler completed and offer a more in-depth analysis of the transportation system, which is responsible for transporting about 6,000 public school and about 1,000 non-public or charter school students across the 150 square-mile district, according to a district release.
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This summer, in an effort to streamline the transportation system, the district engaged in talks with the 11 non-public or charter schools in the district to align their start times with those of the extended school day proposal. After showing a willingness to consider adjusting their bell times, the schools informed the district in September that they will not be changing their school day times, according to Randy Brown, SCASD financial and operations officer.
To address the time discrepancy with the non-public and charter schools, the district is planning to develop separate bus routes to transport those students to a central location in the district, where they will then be shuttled to their individual schools.
The plan could require the district to replace six small-capacity buses with larger buses. The one-time expense could cost between $300,000 and $400,000, according to Brown.
While SBC is conducting the study, the district will continue to evaluate the transportation system and route efficiency in an effort to maintain the duration of the current bus routes, which the district expects will not increase.
“We want to get better and we want to make sure that we’re not missing any opportunities here,” Brown said. “But it is a very complex system.”
The contract with SBC requires the results to be delivered to the district by Dec. 31.
The school board has not set a date to vote on the proposal, but it anticipates the vote will come in December.