We’re releasing a new analysis on school transportation today. Looks at the big picture issues of school transportation, promising forward-looking ideas, and the challenges.
We held an event this morning at Union Station in Washington to release it. It featured a discussion with practitioners and analysts from Florida, Massachusetts, Idaho, and Washington. (And attendees were driven to work afterwards in this school bus to the right).
You can find the paper here (pdf). Transportation is a foundational education issue that touches on the educational experience of schools, efficiency concerns for school districts, educational choice, and the environment. So a lot going on.
The image emerging from our work is grim. School districts struggle to provide efficient service in the face of escalating costs and increasingly complex education systems where more and more students attend schools outside their neighborhoods. Stagnant state funding streams force districts either to sacrifice service quality and forego system upgrades or divert funds from other purposes. Federal and state regulations concerning student safety and special student populations’ educational rights are at odds with strategies to improve efficiency. All those competing priorities must be carefully balanced.
Factors such as a shortage of qualified bus drivers and fuel market volatility further complicate these matters. Also, districts have largely failed to adopt even basic technologies to improve data collection as well as operational and cost-efficiency, much less major overhauls, such as replacing diesel with alternative fuels.
To improve current school transportation systems, we recommend three types of innovations…