Could NK Schools Find Big Savings in Bus Services?

The North Kingstown School Committee looked at an audit of the schools transportation services.


An audit of the North Kingstown School Department’s transportation services may yield almost a quarter-million dollars in savings for the district with its recommendation. This Tuesday, the North Kingstown School Committee looked at an audit from TransPar Group, which looked at bus routes, efficiency and cost analysis.

The report made three major recommendation – reducing one full-size bus from regular rotation, reduce runs for students attending private schools Monsignor Clarke and The Prout School from two buses to one, and consolidating minibus runs. In total, these recommendations could save the district up to $242,400.

NK’s student transportation services are split into two categories: 21 full-size contracted buses (providing bus service to NK schools, Monsignor Clarke and Prout School) and 15 district-owned, mini-buses (providing NK’s special needs, private school and out-of-district students at 15 schools throughout Rhode Island).

According to the audit, NK’s contracted buses cost $409 per bus per day to operate, totaling $1,546,000 per year. On the minibus side, it each bus each day costs $529 to run for a total cost of $1,429,295. In all, North Kingstown schools spend $2.9 million on the transportations of its students.

Using data collected from many Rhode Island school districts in 2009, TransPar found that NKSD has higher transportation costs per student. Part of the reason behind this is the inclusion of bus monitors on all regular education bus routes along with the district’s pay packages.

The cost disparity between contracted and minibuses is caused in large part by the fact that district buses have paraprofessionals while contracted buses have monitors. NKSD’s pay and benefits programs are more costly, the report states. Minibus drivers are paid an average of $102.17 per day (assuming an eight-hour day), paraprofessionals are paid an average of $86.64 per day (average hourly rate of $15.95) and monitors are paid between $8,50 and $9.50 per hour (averaging four hours per day).

“It appears that the culmination of paying the drivers for an eight hour day, plus the benefit package causes the District’s bus operating costs to well exceed that of the contractor,” states the report.

TransPar suggested the school district look into reducing its transportation costs to get them in line with contractors’ costs. If that is not possible, TransPar suggests NK turn to contracting for all of its transportation services. According to NKSD Business Director Mary King, many school districts have already outsourced these services to the state.

Another recommendation was to improve the efficiency of bus routes. Currently, NK’s contracted buses are utilized 66 percent of the time with only 54 percent of the seats being filled. The “ultimate performance standard” is to utilize 80 percent of the seats 80 percent of the time. TransPar suggested reducing buses from 19 to fewer than 18, cutting two from North Kingstown High School and one run from Davisville Middle, SMH-Quidnessett Elementary and Forest Park Elementary schools, potentially saving the district $73,600 per year.

Optimizing the bus service to Msgr. Clarke and Prout was a hot topic of discussion for the North Kingstown School Committee Tuesday night. Two buses transport students to each school, with an average of 13 and 14 riders. The report suggests consolidating the two buses into one, as the schools are only two miles apart from each other, saving the district $73,600.

Though a good idea in theory, North Kingstown School Department Transportation Coordinator John Horan told the committee that its application could pose more problems for the district.

“If we were to combine the buses into one route, my best estimate is that the last kid would not be getting dropped off until 5:15 or 5:30 p.m.,” said Horan, as the bus route would range from Saunderstown to Forge Road, practically in East Greenwich.

School Committee Member Larry Ceresi suggested creating a central drop-off spot at the high school for these students to minimize the length of these runs. By state law, the school district is required to provide transportation services to North Kingstown students to their respective schools.

“The layout of this town is very difficult, more difficult than I think people realize,” said Ceresi. “There’s got to be a little give and take. If you want your child picked up at your door and want them back at a certain time, there has to be a little give and take.”

NKSD nabbed commendations for its efficient four-tiered bell schedule that allows for buses to run more efficiently, allowing time between start times of each school. TransPar did, however, suggest adding five to 10 minutes for the middle school buses to complete their runs in the afternoon, freeing up one or two buses.


john boscardin January 25, 2013 at 08:00 PM
The new 3 year contact with the ESP union has saved the school district $500k this year alone. I would not consider that "sweeping (savings) under the rug".
NK Politics January 25, 2013 at 10:20 PM
@John B, While I agree and truly commend you and the School Comm, that's yesterdays news so I will ask what you are going to do for residents today? Additional known savings are obviously there to be had so...............
NK Politics January 25, 2013 at 10:27 PM
@Dave, it is obvious that you are not concerned about available School Dept savings. Always easier to talk about the unknown...... You indicated "I think there's a lot of work to do on that side of the house",how about kicking in constructive saving ideas instaed of pointing your finger to others????????
NK Politics January 25, 2013 at 10:28 PM
@Pam, bravo for as you say thinking out of the box - thanks!
ru4real January 26, 2013 at 12:21 AM
@ Mr. Boscardin First I am not a union person nor do I work in the school system. So don't try that specious line with me. I'm simply a fed up taxpayer! Let's see what kind of bluster you and the SC (and the TC) can muster at contract time with the teacher's union. I'm betting on the union. It's always dump on the people on the low end of the scale. Let's not forget the top heavy administration. Are you going to award them bonus' again this year after firing people? Do you have the nuts to go all in and call any tactic or bluff? I doubt it! It has long been overdue that Fairway Drive is hauled up short and the taxpayers (all of us) get a say so in the end product. That product is mediocre at best (check the latest NECAP scores). Don't even try to spin the results, they speak for themselves. When does the SC start demanding that the taxpayers hard earned money get results that we in NK can be proud of, or is mediocrity the measure of success in NK's schools?
Dave January 26, 2013 at 12:28 AM
NK Politics, I don't think we disagree. The Sc needs to continue to find new and innovative ways to save money. My point was, and is, that they have been doing so, and the town hasn't. I want to see both sides doing the work. As far as consolidated school districts, in particular nk absorbing Jamestown and Narragansett, it only makes sense. However, it was reported at nk sc meetings that those districts were not interested in consolidating....perhaps because those residents don't have the same poverty level as nk and prefer to pay higher taxes than lose local control...just speculating. That kind of thing really needs to be done by the State in a comprehensive way. Oh, I forgot, we have zero leadership and effort taking place at the state level in helping school districts and cities and towns to climb out of the hole that overspending has put us in. Out sourcing of cafeteria is on the horizon as well as other things, from what I heard at the last few meetings, but the recent unilateral changes that the SC made to the esp contract realized most of those cost savings already. When the new contract expires, they will look to outsource, according to comments made by their business director, and several members. Now, again, I'm going to ask, when is the town going to outsource, cut or trim anything? that would certainly help.
Dave January 26, 2013 at 12:36 AM
Faith 79, with all due respect, learn what has been done and or cut before making ignorant comments. Calling people monkeys isn't civil or productive. The Sc has been chipping away at some of these contractual benefits, and the administrators have had their co pay raised, have had no increase in pay for three years, and the teachers contract was also scaled back on several fronts. You can't turn an ocean liner around in five seconds, so sacrifices will have to be made by everyone, including kids, fair or not, to make up for what we as a society have been doing in overspending for years. You can't strip every single benefit out of contracts all at once, or nk will lose all the decent teachers. It takes time. If you think you can fix it, run for office and see what you can accomplish. We need people who will take a stand and actually get involved instead of standing on the sidelines attacking. The kids will survive, it's better than taking away the programs that make this district a great school district. Transportation is a privilege and not part of the school curriculum.
john boscardin January 26, 2013 at 12:40 AM
@ru4real, I am quite certain I have "the nuts" as you put it. I post on here using my real name is only one example. You on the other hand..... @NK Politcs, the ESP contract is a 3 year proposition and it saves money every year of the contract, so it helps the residents for 3 years.
Politics Sheriff of NK January 26, 2013 at 01:45 AM
The union teachers ARE in FACT one of if not the biggest single expense to the taxpayers in ALL RI municipalities. When factoring in the million plus dollars in pension payments each retired teacher gets, their pay is MUCH higher than a free market rate would settle at. BUT you cant get that down in one town. WONT happen. Must happen statewide all at once and even then you've got pressure from neighboring states. Just imagine if Boscardin had enough "nuts" to knock even 10k off the teachers nearly $100k top step compensation. You'd save very roughly about 3 million dollars! Get rid of that ridiculous unaffordable defined benefit pension obligation scam, and you'd really start impacting the town tax rates. BUT it WILL NOT happen. What HAS happened is that teachers agreed to pay much more health care (from zero percent to 20%) and have accepted small 1% raises or so. MIGHT be able to squeak class sizes up a bit but not much or the kids are impacted. I am not saying this as a school committee member, but rather as a taxpayer. The single biggest expense is also the one the school committee is most powerless to reduce.
ru4real January 26, 2013 at 01:08 PM
@Mr. Boscardin Your posting here with your name doesn't mean squat to me. As a public official I expect you and the rest of your SC members to respond to the taxpayers. By the way where are the rest of them? Are you the public voice of the SC? I asked a couple of specific questions and you did not answer. Please address the mediocre NECAP scores and the issue of the bonus' you championed for the bloated administration, the same night the SC voted to fire the custodians. If those administrators had an ounce of decency they would have refused the $, but the trough is filled by you and the other SC members, so why should they show any humanity. Can you say salt in the wound. The high taxes paid in NK are not justified by the results from Fairway Drive. The enrollment goes down and the expenses keep going up. Maybe it's time for the SC to take a hard stance with the teacher's union and get some real concessions on behalf of all the taxpayers (I did not say voters). Have you noticed the proliferation of for sale signs in NK? Might it be that people are fed up and are walking away in disgust? Or are we to continue to whistle by the graveyard as the town slides backward on the slippery slope that the SC and the TC have created?
NK Politics January 26, 2013 at 02:31 PM
@John, you are proving my point - rather than looking forward you continue to talk about what you did yesterday. Perhaps you should look at yourself and your words to understand what the real issue is and why NK School Dept continues to look for increased taxes rather than taking advantage of REAL opportunities for savings. The same that many NK families have to do everyday.
NK Parent January 26, 2013 at 08:59 PM
You were doing so well until you couldn't help yourself with the "monkeys at the top" crack. When you make a comment like this you've pretty much throw away the rest of your entire comment. Maybe it makes you feel better but it ends up making the situation so much harder for everyone -- including the kids.
NK Parent January 26, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Agreed. In order to really "fix" the budget problems the SC needs to tackle one very difficult issue -- the teacher's union. I like teachers and think they should be amply rewarded for a grueling and important job but the current pension plans offered to our teachers is out-of-date and should be moved to a 100% employee-contributed 401K-type plan with a smallish match (maybe 2-4%) provided by the school district. The private sector does just fine with this type of retirement plan and there's no reason the teacher's couldn't work with this.
Jillian Preble January 27, 2013 at 06:08 AM
Last I checked, as long as the child goes to a private school within the same county, the town must provide bussing. NK and Prout/ M. Clarke are both in Washington County, not South County, so yes the town must. They also provide free text books to the child. The student gets a book list and if the town has the books in stock, they pick them up in the summer for the year. My cousin lived in Warwick, Kent County, and attended Prout, in Washington, so she had to find her own rides there. The law may have changed as they often do.
ru4real January 29, 2013 at 02:19 AM
@ Mr. Boscardin or any SC member. I am still waiting for answers to my questions (asked on the 26th of January) above. Cat got your tongue or do you not have a good politaspeak answer? The taxpayers deserve answers to these questions. Your silence speaks volumes!!
Dave January 30, 2013 at 12:02 AM
ru4real, Go to a sc meeting, show your face, and ask your questions. If Sc members won't come on here and dialogue with you as an amonymous poster, I don't blame them. If you expect them to engage with you, have the courage to show yourself and do so person to person.
We R NK January 30, 2013 at 02:53 AM
Why so the bell can go off, the gavel can go down and point of order can be shouted 115 times? Really whether a person is using their real name or not should have no bearing on answering this person's questions. You are kidding right?
Dave January 30, 2013 at 12:58 PM
we r nk, you come on here, with rude comments, always anxious to take a swipe at someone. If you're going to call people out and demand they come on and answer to you, then don't hide. I have no problem with anonymous screen names, but to call people out and demand they answer to you while you're not revealing your identity is not cricket.
ru4real January 30, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Don't you dare lecture me! I have attended more meetings in this town than I can count. WE R NK is correct! You will not get honest answers at the SC meeting or the TC, to q's that are as pointed as the NECAP scores or the bonus issue. You will only get politaspeak or a none answer. The people of NK should be asking the same q's about the mediocre scores and the mediocre grad stats. You do realize that a high percentage of grads must take remedial math and reading courses when they start college, just to keep up with the entry level workload. My q's stand as asked and I"m still waiting for answers which will not be forthcoming.
We R NK January 30, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Dave I am not asking the questions, ru4 real is. I have also attended many meetings and when I can't I watch them. I think Mr. Jones is doing a fine job and I hope many of the questions that we in town are looking for will be answered soon. My comments are not rude however they are truthful and some people have a hard time distinguishing between the two. I do not mean to be offensive but if you are offended I do apologize. Please know that I am only calling it as I see it. Have a nice day.
E January 30, 2013 at 05:13 PM
Dave, The bus issue, as it relates to affecting NK school start/completion times, is very concerning to me. I HAVE voiced them via: 1. Patch blog, 2. speaking during public comment at a SC mtg., 2. generating a petition,and, 4. letters to Dr. Auger and SC members. Cheryl Clarkin, Bob Jones, Lynda Avanzato, Bill Mudge and Dr. Auger have been wonderful in responding back to me! I have faith that together, this dynamic group, will brainstorm plausible changes in this Tues. night's budget worksession... changes that will make NK school start/completion times more reasonable than they currently are this year. :)
E January 30, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Dave, Yes, transportation is a privilege. No it is NOT part of the curriculum. But I think any RIDE advocate would remind you that a sound, comprehensive, educational program for our students effectively accounts for ALL facets of our children's school day. I am so pleased that the transportation sector of NK schools is being scrutinized for greater student usage and effectiveness.
john boscardin January 30, 2013 at 09:39 PM
I will be happy to answer any of questions provided you email me via school website and include your name and address. I prefer to limit any Q's & A's to bonafide NK residents. Feel free to call me as well. All School Committee members contact info can be found here: http://www2.nksd.net/education/dept/dept.php?sectionid=668 I am not obligated in any way to engage in discussions on this or any other blog.
ru4real January 30, 2013 at 11:49 PM
Initially, when you first came on the Patch, I gave you credit for the effort. I do not believe that anyone said you were obligated. You came here to spin your/the SC's talking points. The questions still stand! The proof is in the results of the latest NECAP scores and the grad stats! You did speak to and support the "incentive bonus'" on the night the custodians were fired, that's fact. After the infamous executive session. (to Dave I was at the meeting) As stated above neither the SC nor the TC will or wants to respond to tough questions unless they have their gavel in hand and or the bully pulpit to control the taxpayers outrage. Your response proves what WE R NK and I have stated. In the future I would suggest that unless you are going to answer the tough q's you should not come here where the q's may be a little to pointed for your liking. It's probably best to sit on the stage and look down upon the "uninformed taxpayers" from your unelected position.
Politics Sheriff of NK January 31, 2013 at 12:17 AM
Your back! :)
Dave January 31, 2013 at 01:21 AM
ru4real, ru in union? lol, I think I know the answer to that. "Outraged" taxpayers shouldn't direct their ire at John B, he is a member of the lean budget.....try the tc, they are the ones increasing your taxes. John, Good for you! I would not answer to people who are hiding. And nice job on the SC too, by the way.
Politics Sheriff of NK January 31, 2013 at 03:32 AM
Boscardin does a great job. I was really surprised and happy to be surprised. I will vote FOR him should he run again. Give these SC people a break. It's not like the old days with riff-raff like Defedele and Hueston and Defrances all handing the store away and insulting the taxpayers while they kissed Halleys butt. Those are all gone. Look at the TC now that still needs to be fixed.
ru4real January 31, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Simply put your conjecture is like Swiss cheese full of holes.The union issue is so far off the mark it's laughable. Never been a union member and never would be. I'm not real good at being dictated to in any form by anyone. Lean budget that's real funny. Wasn't there a hidden shortfall, supposedly, that miraculously was covered when the public outrage forced the SC and the bloated administration to pony up. Where did the $ come from in such a lean budget? Can you say accounting tomfoolery that is the school budget. Can you say shell and pee game or the time tested bait and switch tactic. Enrollment is down & expenses up (please don't cry fixed) and the end product is dumbing down continually. But bonus' are given, sounds like a great business model to me. Very lean. As I stated earlier mediocrity is the accepted product and is touted by the administration and the SC as a wonderful educational experience, remember the remedial issue! I notice that you don't bother to address any of these issues. You attack me for telling the truth, how quaint! If that budget underwent true independent forensic auditing, not chosen by the SC or TC, I'm told that there would be some interesting revelations. But that will never happen. People like you don't really want to know the truth. You like the kool-aid. Have another sip, better yet drink the whole cup. Faster is better than by a thousand cuts.
E January 31, 2013 at 03:08 PM
The mentality of, "The answer is NO... what's the question?" in relation to the bus issue will get us nowhere - fast. It's up to Dr. Auger and SC members to work smarter, not harder to collectively create solutions that will positively impact NK families. A great step in the right direction was to have TransPar scrutinize the trans. system in place. Contracting out bus services is a great idea for starters! I am interested to learn HOW the efficiency of bus routes can be improved from the current 66% utilization and 54% capacity. I think the 80% goals of both utilization and capacity is an attainable one, with some honest to goodness, REAL attention given to this issue. What about consolidation of bus routes? This would require a PERSON, not a COMPUTER to analyze the current bus stops/routes of all NK buses. Forming a subcommittee to actually ride our buses, observe, take notes, confer w/ drivers and parents, then make recommendations, may be something the Supt. and SC members could do to "work smarter." Being told that there's no $$, go to the TC w/ your concerns is such a "pass the buck" answer when I bring up this issue. Here's your budget, here are your expenditures, make it work. You were hired, elected to creatively problem - solve... let's see what you can come up with. Changing start/end times didn't work this year. People HATE it. There is a solution better than this, it's just waiting to be found! :)
Alizy Caplon July 10, 2013 at 04:37 PM
I'm agreed with "E" i think that's name is on last post. http://www.gtapearsonlimo.ca/services.php


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