District may eliminate middle-school bus routes

2012-04-09T00:00:00Z 2012-04-09T23:35:50Z District may eliminate middle-school bus routesISABELLE DILLS Napa Valley Register
April 09, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Napa Valley Unified may eliminate eight middle-school bus routes this fall as part of the school district’s plan to save money on transportation costs.

District officials presented their transportation plan to the school board during a meeting Thursday night. The plan was up for discussion only, and not for a vote.

According to school board policy, only seventh- and eighth-grade students who live more than 3 miles away from school are eligible for transportation service. Currently, the district is supporting eight middle-school bus routes that fall under the 3-mile range.

Officials are proposing to eliminate those routes to make more drivers available for field trips and to save money.

Affected middle school students would have to walk, ride a VINE bus or find another form of transportation to get to school if the plan were put in place, said Vince Meyer, the district’s general services administrator.

Some school board members raised concerns about the plan, especially the proposal to eliminate three buses that transport children from the McPherson neighborhood to Silverado Middle School. The route distance is 2.8 miles — the longest of the routes up for elimination.

“For them to walk 3 miles, so many things can happen between the home and the school. To me, that’s a concern,” board trustee Francis Ortiz-Chavez said.

Ortiz-Chavez asked Meyer if he had ever walked that distance.

“At 3 miles per hour, it’s 56 minutes. So it is a long walk,” Meyer said.

Board members proposed reviewing the 3-mile policy, and suggested that district officials secure a partnership with the VINE bus system to ensure an alternative before eliminating the routes.

In addition to cutting service, the district also proposed to have elementary school bus drivers cover two schools per shift. If this plan were to go forward, some elementary schools would have to adjust their bell schedules by up to 20 minutes.

“The whole goal is to create a design to free up six drivers,” Meyer said.

By making more drivers available, the transportation department hopes to become less reliant on charter bus companies and have its own drivers drive 90 percent of sports and field trips. In 2011-12, the department drove only 32 percent of the sports trips, and spent about $192,000 by contracting with charter companies, according to the transportation plan. If the department were to reach its 90 percent goal in 2012-13, it could save more than $124,000 in sports and field trip costs.

Currently, the district pays for the majority of charter bus services. Schools are supposed to reimburse the district, but many cannot afford to do so.

Napa and Vintage high schools have outstanding bills between $15,000 and $25,000 for transportation costs, said Wade Roach, assistant superintendent of business services. American Canyon High School owes the district more than $70,000 for charter bus services.

“Either we come up with a solution or we begin to have the discussion about which events these athletic teams can go to,” Roach said.

He said the district is working on creating a payment plan for the high schools.

While most of the transportation plan focused on cutting costs, it also contained a proposal to generate revenue. The plan is for Napa Valley Unified to provide drivers for neighboring school districts. This could generate about $15,000 a year per home-to-school route, Meyer said.

He stressed that supporting other districts couldn’t be implemented immediately, and Napa Valley Unified would focus on taking care of its own, first.

At the end of the presentation, Meyer acknowledged the board members’ concerns and said the district will continue working on the development of the plan for 2012-13.

Meyer pointed out that other school districts have had to eliminate home-to-school transportation completely — something Napa Valley Unified is working to avoid.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(41) Comments

  1. RalphMouth
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    RalphMouth - April 09, 2012 5:59 am
    I walked 10 miles to school in the snow.
  2. Big Momma
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    Big Momma - April 09, 2012 7:06 am
    I guess our school district officials are no longer concerned with the safety of the children in their community. What exactly are the priorities of this board and the school administrators?
  3. RiverDog
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    RiverDog - April 09, 2012 8:13 am
    This proposal places a higher priority on sports and field trips at the expense of kids who need a safe ride to school. That's pathetic!
  4. long time napan
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    long time napan - April 09, 2012 8:25 am
    Big Momma...Can't have it all....the buses are almost empty anyway....
  5. Leo624
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    Leo624 - April 09, 2012 9:23 am
    There are such things as bicycles. Three miles on a bike is about 15 minutes.
  6. Carr
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    Carr - April 09, 2012 9:27 am
    What is the concern about saving money? Since the year 2000 the district's annual revenue has more than doubled and in 2010-2011 the district received $11 million stimulus funds - where is all that money?





  7. Report Abuse
    - April 09, 2012 9:30 am
    Hiring a charter service for "educational" field trips is fine by me, but hiring a charter service to get the team to a game is ridiculous. If the parents want their child to participate in an after-school sport game then it should be up to the parents to get them to the game. And field trips for high-school students? There are only two reasons most of today's high school students want to go on a field trip: To get out of classes and to goof off. If your child shows interest in educational field trips then take them yourself, you might actually learn something.
  8. chunk215
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    chunk215 - April 09, 2012 9:38 am
    Maybe the school district can get some bikes donated to give to those students who don't want to walk to school or walk at only 3 miles per hour. If they already have a bike even better.
  9. glenroy
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    glenroy - April 09, 2012 10:18 am
    Mumbo jumbo….'free up drivers for field trips?'… most field trips occur after the students are dropped off and return before schools out… meaning there are numerous buses and drivers.

    There is no way all costs considered that the school district providers cheaper or more efficient service than a contractor…like saying the FD provides more affordable service than Piner did… AMR for sure though.

    Folks should attend the next district meeting and ask a few questions that are never answered unless forced.

    1. How much is spent in total on all transportation including services, maintenance, wages, administration.. the big number what it costs the district.

    2. Ask them how hours per day teachers are in class with students.

    3. How much is spent on ‘junkets’… ‘work shops’ per year…

    Public education, in this state and every other blue state, has a long history of grossly understating what is spent per student rather than what is being spent…. Visit cato.org click education.
  10. SeriouslyNapa
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    SeriouslyNapa - April 09, 2012 10:19 am
    Too bad the article didn't mention the 7 new Hybrid busses the NVUSD was awarded via grant money! Great job improving our fleet without spending money! CONGRATULATIONS!
  11. reportequally
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    reportequally - April 09, 2012 11:27 am
    My children play high school sports, and in the last few years we paid at least $1200.00 for bus fees. Make sure the transportation fees, paid by parents, are going directly to the buses.
    Don’t forget, this is the last year that the district has to pay for buses for the AC students at Vintage, which will free up thousands of dollars.
  12. alucawanza
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    alucawanza - April 09, 2012 12:19 pm
    River Dog: Field trips are not paid for by the school district. To have a field trip money is raised by the classroom. Bus fees are also paid for by the classroom.

    BigMomma: Whose responsibility is it to get your child to school safely?

    Carr: Go on line and check out the school district's budget.
    http://nvusd-ca.schoolloop.com/file/1291557759528/1286953951530/4699444748507811750.pdf
    random name here: This is about Middle Schools.

    glenroy: California is at the bottom for spending per pupil.
    As a teacher I was there at 7:15 and left around 4:00. How many hours is that? I had 30 minutes for lunch. Other teachers were there before me. By District law elementary teachers must be at school by 8:15 and stay until 3:15 with 30 minutes for lunch. That doesn't count the real time spent each day on school work. Is this the point of this article?

    The sports booster clubs at the High Schools pay for most of the bus costs. Parents work to raise money. Go play Bingo and support them.
  13. alucawanza
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    alucawanza - April 09, 2012 12:20 pm
    Hey RalphMouth
    Wasn't it uphill both ways???
  14. Carr
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    Carr - April 09, 2012 12:44 pm
    Seriously napa thinks we got new buses without spending money? I think that kind of comment is sad because those buses clearly cost the taxpayers big money and now the district is cutting student busing so they won't even be used. That is a shocking waste of scarce resource which the schools could care less.


  15. keepitreal
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    keepitreal - April 09, 2012 1:43 pm
    What ever happened to parental responsibility? If you choose to have children, you should be responsible for getting them to and from school. As an adult and parent, figure something out.
    Public school needs less administrators, less secretaries for administrators, less executive expenses and more parental involvement. It may take a villiage to raise a child, but many parents seem to just want to take and not give to the village.
  16. SeriouslyNapa
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    SeriouslyNapa - April 09, 2012 2:19 pm
    Carr said: "Seriously napa thinks we got new buses without spending money? I think that kind of comment is sad because those buses clearly cost the taxpayers big money and now the district is cutting student busing so they won't even be used. That is a shocking waste of scarce resource which the schools could care less."

    Elementary and special ed still have service....please get some facts before you critsize. BAAQMD offered the grant in conjuction with LESBP. To keep children and citizens healthier. They will be used!
  17. Raven
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    Raven - April 09, 2012 3:26 pm
    alucawanza said: "Hey RalphMouthWasn't it uphill both ways???"

    and walked while barefoot?
  18. The Republican
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    The Republican - April 09, 2012 5:21 pm
    Why should I have to pay for free school bus service for other people's children? What's in it for me? Nothing! Their parents should be the ones driving them to school or paying for it, not the hardworking taxpayers. If you can't afford to support your children, don't have them in the first place!
  19. John Richards
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    John Richards - April 09, 2012 5:49 pm
    When I attended middle school it was 4 miles away and took only 20 minutes on my bicycle. Why can't today's kids do that? No wonder there is an obesity epidemic in this nation!
  20. Fact Check
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    Fact Check - April 09, 2012 8:08 pm
    I had children in high school sports and paid hundreds of dollars for "transportation fees". I was also told it was cheaper to higher a charter bus than to pay union bus drivers to drive the teams to out of town games. I couldn't opt out of the transportation fee and drive my children myself - so all of you who think the parents are avoiding responsibility, think again.
  21. Just Concerned
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    Just Concerned - April 09, 2012 8:23 pm
    Neither American Canyon Middle School nor High School have bus service. Kids cross Highway 29 during rush hour... and in the early dark morning hours.
  22. chunk215
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    chunk215 - April 09, 2012 9:06 pm
    I agree John. My brothers and I started riding our bikes a mile or so starting in second grade. Threw on our rain gear when it rained. Never had a problem. If I was a parent I'd have my kid ride their bike. Its faster to get home after school that way as well. My dad worked til 5. School ends at 3. We were walking home if we didn't have our bikes.
  23. reason-ator
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    reason-ator - April 10, 2012 1:38 am
    Raven said: "and walked while barefoot?"

    I wanted to say that ! And we did it without cellphones.

    Hey, wait. We really did that.
  24. reason-ator
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    reason-ator - April 10, 2012 1:48 am
    OK, to be fair, my grandaughter has the same route to school as I did when I walked to school a couple of years ago. And maybe plus about four decades.

    But when I was walking to elementary schoolback then, we weren't hearing about kids disappearing like we do today. And it seems like there were more school buses back then.

    If my grandaughter was going to walk to school nowadays, I'd follow her in a car.

    So now, in the age of "being green", we have 300 car, trucks, or SUVs making the trip to school because we can't afford five buses to do it ?

    Aren't we smart......and no, there's no question mark...
  25. post-it
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    post-it - April 10, 2012 11:14 am
    Why can't kids walk or ride bikes to school?

    Helicopter parents are one reason - unwarranted fear of abduction. Kids can't even be crossing guards anymore, for some reason we need parents to do that too.

    With open enrollment, kids are also accustomed to getting a ride from their parents to a school that is across town and not in their neighborhood - and parents are accustomed to driving them - it has become the new normal rather than riding a bus.

    BTW - I walked in the snow too...
  26. garretth37
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    garretth37 - April 10, 2012 2:50 pm
    Sad to hear that we are getting rid of more buses, which is important. We have been cutting the schools for years, soon nothing will be left expect the basics. Lets go back to one rooms schools, unmarried teachers living in someone home, no libraries, no admin, no standards. Just learn to read, write and math.
  27. orchid lady
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    orchid lady - April 10, 2012 4:33 pm
    I am concerned about the kids who were getting picked up at McPherson, or living in that area, walking to school on a dangerous road. I fear that many if no tthe majority of kids may choose to walk down Soscol, or Lincoln, to Silverado Trail where there is not much of a side walk or shoulder.

    Along with the psycho parent drivers who seem to forget that they are in a school zone on their rush to drop off their kids and get to work, it's just a dangerous walk. I know there are alternate routes, but c'mon, as a kid I never took the "long-way" my mom told me to.
  28. GoSFGiants
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    GoSFGiants - April 10, 2012 4:53 pm
    Like many other posters to this story, I wonder why kids can't walk and ride their bikes more often. I know times have changed and there are safety issues but this is not Oakland folks. There is safety in numbers!!! Parents should get together and form walking/biking groups in their neighborhoods. Why must kids be driven every morning when the weather is good (or bad)creating traffic jams around schools for those trying to get to work? Put down your video game controls and cell phones and get out there. When we were young we took the city bus also. You may have fun walking/biking with your buddies and stay in shape while your at it.
  29. Big Momma
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    Big Momma - April 10, 2012 7:43 pm
    long time napan said: "Big Momma...Can't have it all....the buses are almost empty anyway...."

    My kid's bus from the Kiwanis field is full both ways every day. There is no city bus to Silverado, nor a safe bike route on Coombsville. Field trips and sports are extra-cirricular and optional. Attendance to school for minors is mandatory by law. If it is an either/or on the spending, it seems a no-brainer to me.

  30. reason-ator
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    reason-ator - April 11, 2012 12:59 am
    post-it said: "Why can't kids walk or ride bikes to school?Helicopter parents are one reason - unwarranted fear of abduction...."

    It's JUST one reason.

    In my example, the route I took to school had about 2% of the cars on the road as there are now. A few years after I was going to that school, a student was hit by a car and as far as I know he never walked again. And NOW there are 50 times as many cars driving by all of the houses where the prune orchards and cow pastures were.

    Nowadays, when a child goes to a friend's house after school they form a search party. When I was a kid, we didn't call the cops when that happened. Our parents took care of the search. And the punishment.

    Whether we like it or not, times have changed. Two parents aree in a hurry to get to work and they won't get up forty minutes early to give their kids time to walk to school. They'll shuttle them around for 35 minutes to save 5 minutes. Good luck fixing that.
  31. glenroy
    Report Abuse
    glenroy - April 11, 2012 9:26 am
    reason-ator said: "OK, to be fair, my grandaughter has the same route to school as I did when I walked to school a couple of years ago. And maybe plus about four decades.But when I was walking to elementary schoolback then, we weren't hearing about kids disappearing like we do today. And it seems like there were more school buses back then.If my grandaughter was going to walk to school nowadays, I'd follow her in a car.So now,
    in the age of "being green", we have 300 car, trucks, or SUVs making the trip to school because we can't afford five buses to do it ?Aren't we smart......and no, there's no question mark..."


    Well... said we walked from Yellowstone to Bel-Air from day two from K-6th grade...to do that today would nuts.
  32. glenroy
    Report Abuse
    glenroy - April 11, 2012 9:46 am
    Allie…that’s a myth, it's always been a myth, that CA is on the bottom in education spending which includes transportation costs. This CTA/NEA created myth excludes accurate administration, transportation, grants, and local special district taxes like our building permit fee which is not uniform state wide....excludes fund raisers, boosters, endowments etc.

    Our district is 'Unified’ which explicitly means instead of efficiencies...the primary interest is district employes and benefits, not the kids, not even education, not schools, not safety, not transportation…inline with the social agenda of both CTA, NEA.

    There are many nonpartisan studies regarding real public education costs, in our state they understate costs on average around 25%, LA it’s over 50%…

    The only way public ed can compete with private schools is make it appear it's less costly....
  33. alucawanza
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    alucawanza - April 11, 2012 10:17 am
    glenroy:
    http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/school-spending-falls-further-behind-rest-nation-2977

    http://theeddy.sceducation.org/2010/09/10/sorting-out-how-california-ranks-in-school-spending/

    http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/calif-school-spending-among-lowest-nation-13099

    http://www.cbp.org/pdfs/2007/070926_how_does_ca_compare.pdf

    Just a few facts for you Glenroy.
  34. reason-ator
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    reason-ator - April 11, 2012 11:53 am
    What happened to "If it saves just one child, it's worth it. " ?
  35. reason-ator
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    reason-ator - April 11, 2012 11:55 am
    The Republican said: "... If you can't afford to support your children, don't have them in the first place! "

    I thought Republicans were supposed to be "Pro-Life" ?

  36. Raven
    Report Abuse
    Raven - April 11, 2012 7:53 pm
    There are many nonpartisan studies regarding real public education costs, in our state they understate costs on average around 25%, LA it’s over 50%…

    so if there are so many, why can't you seem to find one link to post to any of them?
  37. reason-ator
    Report Abuse
    reason-ator - April 13, 2012 8:51 am
    Raven said: "There are many nonpartisan studies regarding real public education costs, in our state they understate costs on average around 25%, LA it’s over 50%…so if there are so many, why can't you seem to find one link to post to any of them?"

    Well, THAT makes the appropriate amount of sense.

  38. John Richards
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    John Richards - April 13, 2012 11:34 am
    reason-ator said: "I thought Republicans were supposed to be "Pro-Life" ?"

    What makes you think that being Pro-Life means encouraging unlimited conception?
  39. kck
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    kck - April 13, 2012 2:52 pm
    god theres a reason I dont post, read or subscribe much anymore.
  40. reason-ator
    Report Abuse
    reason-ator - April 13, 2012 9:26 pm
    John Richards said: "What makes you think that being Pro-Life means encouraging unlimited conception?"

    What makes you think unlimited conception means not enough kids ride their bikes to school in the snow uphill both ways ?
  41. Raven
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    Raven - April 15, 2012 7:08 am
    if you don't want them to have the kids, JR, why oppose groups like Planned Parenthood who want to make contraception available to anyone who needs it?
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