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School district to audit transportation system

By Staff | Feb 9, 2010

School board members ordered a transportation audit for the Lee County School District to look into any improvements that can be made to the $48 million system.
The board voted 4-0, with Board Member Jane Kuckel absent, to contract with TransPar Group, Inc., to provide pupil transportation consulting services for $76,000. The consulting company will examine district records of staff maintenance, bus routing, policies, procedures, student enrollment and more, to determine if anything can be improved.
Superintendent James Browder informed the board that TransPar would begin studying the district’s transportation system starting around Feb. 15.
A comprehensive transportation audit was first discussed during the school board’s reorganization meeting last October, but Tuesday night was the first time the board was presented with a motion to hire a consulting company.
“The one way you improve a district and become closer to a quality school district is getting professionals to look at things and give you recommendations,” said Board Member Jeanne Dozier.
Board Member Elinor Scricca pointed out that members discussed voting on the audit two weeks ago and they were in agreement to bring the motion forward during the reorganization meeting.
“I regret it has taken this long but I am glad it is here now,” said Scricca.
Chairman Steve Teuber said the superintendent spent November and December working with staff to get the proposed audit ready for board approval.
The district’s transportation system has recently been under public scrutiny by some parents who say their children ride a bus four hours each day. Board Member Robert Chilmonik said long bus rides will be a part of the overall audit, but aren’t necessarily its focus.
“It’s not meant to find problems but it’s meant to look at processes and tell us what we can do to make it more efficient and get more dollars out of what we’re spending on transportation,” said Chilmonik.
TransPar was created in 1995 by a number of transportation experts to provide audits for reducing costs. In July 2009 the company reportedly saved the St. Lucie School District $3 million by helping them to consolidate bus routes and change school start times.