According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education, schools spend nearly $1,000 annually on each and every student who rides the bus. Creating, evaluating, and monitoring bus budgets are one of the primary responsibilities of school administrations across the country.
How do bus budgets affect the safety of American school children? You might be surprised the ways in which school transportation budgets indirectly – and directly – impact child safety.
1. Better Budgeting Means Greater Efficiency
The better a school administration is able to budget for transportation, the more efficient its school bus fleet will be. Managing a school bus fleet is incredibly complicated; some districts have literally hundreds of thousands of buses to account for. Bus budgets are a huge constraint when it comes to making routes most efficient. When buses aren’t utilized fully, student commutes get longer, meaning your student is on the road for more time each day rather than safe at school. Efficient school bus routing means buses can easily avoid dangerous situations like road construction and have a contingency plan in place for worrisome inclement weather.
2. Budgets Impact Bus and Driver Quality
Bus drivers are school employees, and budgeting plays a big role in the quality of initial hires. It also impacts the ability of administrators to regularly monitor drivers’ certifications, licenses, medical reviews, and even driving and criminal records; the better-managed your school’s transportation budget, the more secure you can feel about who’s driving your child to school. Implementing money-saving school bus technology is one way administrations are shifting resources to hire better-trained, higher-quality bus drivers.
3. Budget Cuts Mean More Waiting
The fewer buses in a school bus fleet, the longer each student has to ride – and wait – on the bus. Inefficient routing doesn’t just create a scheduling problem, it can actually make kids less safe. The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration says that, “The greatest risk to your child is not riding a bus, but approaching or leaving one.” The longer your child has to wait at the bus stop, the less safe they become. One increasingly-common solution is the use of bus tracking technology which alerts parents when the school bus is close, eliminating time spent in the elements awaiting the bus.
Is your school’s budget shortcomings affecting the quality of bus transportation? School buses are one of the most revered – and vulnerable – facets of education, but they’re not immune to the effects of bad budgeting.
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