Jacobi says busing changes could save $100K

September 26, 2017

Jamie Taylor

River News

Prior to the start of 2017-18 school year, the School District of Rhinelander elected to make a change in its busing practices that district superintendent Kelli Jacobi says could result in savings of over $100,000.

Jacobi made the announcement during her report at the Sept.18 school board meeting.

"We had a great start to transportation this year," Jacobi said. "There were some changes, and I'm sorry to those of you in this room who have children in this district because you probably got real tired of hearing from me, or from the district, but we made a really critical change this year. Normally, we automatically provided transportation for all students that qualified for it according to policy. But what we found is not all of our students wanted transportation, busing, so we were seeing buses on the road that weren't full. In fact, many not even half full."

The district is still offering transportation, only now the parents have to opt in instead of opt out.

"If parents are telling us that they need it by signing up in a registration process, then we are making sure that all of the kids who need it have it instead of saving spaces for them all," Jacobi said. "It was difficult, because I did something about in two weeks, or the district did. Mike Cheslock was a big help, we did Infinite Campus automated messages and you may have heard radio spots."

Jacobi said there was also advertising in area newspapers to get the message out.

"This is still the beginning of the school year, but we were able to reduce three bus routes," she said. "That may not sound like a lot, but that could be upwards of $100,000 in savings. So it's huge. If we start paying attention to what our needs are, instead of always doing what we've always done because it was easier that way ­- truly much easier - it wasn't efficient. So a huge change there."

Jacobi noted that she and several other district administrators were stationed at James Williams Middle School on the first day of school.

"The first day of school is always labor- intensive because it is the first time a lot of the students have gone to that middle school transportation hub for transfer from their school bus to their home bus," Jacobi said. "So it can be very busy with lots of children who need extra help. And it went beautifully, we were all able to leave there at 4 o'clock, which is 15 minute later than a normal day, that's fabulous."

She said Bowen's Bus Service worked in a cooperative manner with the district so that things went well.

She made no mention to the board of the three Crescent Elementary students who were put on the wrong buses, causing the drivers to contact their dispatch center to arrange to get them to their intended destinations the first day of school.

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