I don’t just speak about working with other levels of government, but I try to actually do it. My friend & school board member Julie Workman and I host a community coffee twice a month with County Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden. As such, we get to keep in touch and bounce ideas off of each other. I also sit down with Superintendent Michael Munoz a few times a year.
Two themes keep coming up. Middle & High School kids are starting school at a time that a mountain of data indicates is too early to achieve best results. They have to do this because of limitations in the school transportation system. Conversely the city of Rochester has massive unused capacity at certain times, particularly after the morning rush.
After several meetings with school and city staff we agreed to jointly study using city transportation resources for middle & high school students. The study if approved by both bodies will cost $42k to be shared equally. A feasibility report would be back to us by the end of 1Q 2017 allowing an option to start the program for the 2017-2018 school year.
I’m sure you have a ton of questions, and so do I. My ideal scenario would be:
- serving most, but not all school 6-12 needs with city buses.
- reducing the total transportation costs for the city and/or school system.
- adjusting routes to improve effectiveness and coverage.
- allowing school IDs to function as bus passes, available any time.
- meeting the needs of students with after school activities.
- ensuring the safety of all.
I think it would be foolish to not research the option. Mr. Munoz has seen this work in a previous position, there is no reason why it can’t here.
Interestingly this question actually came up in a recent candidate forum. We both agreed this was something good to look at, however we were differentiated because I do not want elementary school kids included in the program, at least for now. I am comfortable with middle school and up.