The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has released its transportation efficiency ratings for school districts around the state and the Lake Washington School District’s rating was 100 percent, according to a district news release.
The transportation department has focused on continually improving its efficiency, particularly when the department budget was cut for the 2009-10 school year in response to state budget cuts, based on community input. The result over the years has been fewer bus routes and consolidation of bus stops.
“There is a trade-off in the level of service for this efficiency,” said Janene Fogard, deputy superintendent for operational services. “We have to balance efficiency with ensuring reasonable lengths of bus rides and walks to bus stops. We also have to ensure there is no compromise to safety.”
This greater efficiency has ensured that Lake Washington School District spends less per student on transportation than the eight other districts in the state with more than 20,000 students except for Kent School District, according to financial data compiled by OSPI. Lake Washington spent $282.73 per student in 2010-11 (the latest year for which comparable data is available) compared to the $396.80 average for large districts. Kent spent $276.91 per pupil. Lake Washington’s expenditures also compare favorably with smaller school districts nearby, which range from the $274.14 per student spent by a more urban Bellevue to $411.96 by Issaquah.
To ensure efficiency, the department employs the most widely-used specialized school bus routing software, Versatrans.
School district transportation operations were evaluated for efficiency using a statistical process.
Six transportation department staff members, who average 26 years of experience each, manage approximately 595 bus routes and up to 35 additional field trip or athletic team trips a day. Among those 595 routes per day are specialized routes that serve some special education students as well as routes to get morning elementary band students to band practice and to school. The department also provides service to over 200 homeless students under the federal McKinney-Vento Act. Transportation is constantly changing as the needs of students and schools change. Staff members maintain the routing system, respond to bus stop questions/changes, address parent inquiries and provide new and ongoing training for drivers.
Source: Lake Washington School District