In my first several months on the School Board, I was asked to approve a $250,000 transfer of funds to cover a shortfall in the Transportation Department. WHAT?!?!? What’s going on with that? Subsequently I spent a considerable amount of time interacting with then Transportation Director Keith Rosenbaum and CFO John Wolfe to understand why we had to pull money out of our precious lease funds to prop up what I thought should be a fundamental operation to our School District.
I met with Mr. Rosenbaum and Mr. Wolfe several times and I took a full tour of the Transportation Department and met dispatchers, mechanics and drivers. What I found was an incredibly dedicated team working under difficult circumstances because their funding situation is continually insufficient. I came to the realization that our LAPS Transportation Department delivers a very high end product to you, the taxpayers, despite the hardships that they are put under every year.
When I received and read about several concerns from parents at the start of this school year, I felt that I was familiar enough with the transportation budget and operations to interact with the current Transportation Director, Audrey Washburn. The answer I got was – (paraphrased) – step back and let Audrey do her job. I stepped back, and within a week, sure enough our Transportation Director adjusted routes and accommodated nearly every concern that had been presented to her.
Let me get to the chase, one year after I voted to approve the $250,000 transfer of funds to cover the Transportation Department for the 13-14 year, I voted to approve a $250,000 to cover the continual shortfall in State funding for our Transportation Department for the 14-15 year. A deficit that held steady at $250,000 – despite increases in fuel costs, maintenance costs and increased salaries, the Transportation Department managed to still keep level spending.
This has come at a cost, the most significant being a reduction in bus drivers. All of you parents of student athletes and students who travel to competitions as part of their extracurricular activities need to be made aware of the significant impact of this. With fewer drivers, your sports teams and clubs are having to hire charter buses. This does not show up in the transportation budget, but it certainly shows up as an increased cost of 50% to 100% for your child’s transportation to and from their activities. The School Board has approved the allocation of $10,000 to help these teams and activities to absorb this cost, details are still being worked out how to determine the distribution of these funds.
Bottom line – PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE get your student on a bus Wednesday October8th. This is one time where the School District can benefit greatly from a simple effort by you, the parents.