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Is It True? Is School Bussing Coming Back?

It is if we want it and it is certainly doable.

Circulation is, as it should be, our primary concern/issue now and going forward in HMB. It has an effect on just about all we do or try to do. The problems with circulation won’t solve themselves; we need to address it, all work together, be creative and find solutions.

Any weekday during the school year presents us with all we can handle at approximately 7 AM and 3 PM in three City locations; Hatch Elementary, Cunha Middle School and HMB High School. The CUSD District office is also located in HMB, but has not presented the challenges we feel from the schools. So this is not only a CUSD issue, it is a HMB issue as well (maybe more-so).

The CUSD used to have bussing. They owned their busses and were therefor responsible for ownership issues; maintenance, titles, licenses, storing, drivers (plus benefits) and more - an expensive proposition by any measure. In 1992, I spoke to the CUSD Board and suggested they put out RFPs to farm bussing out. Just try it. It would have been significantly cheaper to do so, while still getting our kids to and from school safely while not significantly impacting traffic - so I gave it a go.

What I got was quite a show, as one by one each CUSD employee (driver) walked up to the podium to share their knowledge of the routes, the students they pick up and drop off, the parents of those students and more - basically strongly opposing the idea ... because they would lose their jobs. So it was all about jobs and had nothing to do with getting our children to and from school safely in such a challenging and large District geography. That was a lesson for and to me, and I got it - so I gave up.

Since then, the CUSD has eliminated bussing, with few exceptions (that we all still pay for). In a District this geographically large and diverse, it just seems intuitive to me that the CUSD, being the only public school choice, should be bussing our youth. We have seen the impact with bussing and now have had a good look at the impact without bussing. All evidence that I can find supports reinstating bussing - and that is in all our best interests, now and going forward.

Yesterday, Monday, January 13, 2015 (still not used to that 15 stuff..), there were at least two Special Agency meetings; one was the City Council (started at 8 AM) and the other was the CUSD (started at 6 PM). I went to and spoke at both. One of three thoughts I shared with the City Council was that school bussing was not just a CUSD problem; it is a City problem as well (some reasons mentioned above) and without school bussing, our Level of Service was F at 7 AM and 3 PM. I suggested that the City work with the CUSD to reinstate bussing through contributions. I imagine, at least at the start, that we could call it a pilot program lasting two years. We can monitor the program, make adjustments as needed or able, and see what impact school bussing would have on Citywide circulation.

I then went to the CUSD Board meeting and proposed the same thing, only with more. I have absolutely no doubt that those poor CUSD trustees have heard it so many times that they can recite all the arguments in their sleep, but they hadn’t heard what I suggested - that it be a collaborative effort with the groups that already support them (PTA’s, Site Councils, CEF, private donors, etc) and the City and whoever else values busing. This is not a burden they need carry by themselves.

Now, with that said, I also suggested more. I identified the High School as the number one culprit and also one that can be modified, reducing the circulation problem. We are lucky that there has never been an emergency at the HS at crunch times. I’m not comfortable tempting fate. I suggested that they could also widen Louis Foster Drive to three (3) lanes which would produce obvious benefits for all, including circulation. This is of particular import because the traffic jam resulting from the end of the school day at the HS in particular can be and is felt by the evening commuters coming home. By the time ‘rush hour’ really starts, it is already at Service Level F because of the poor start it got due to the jam from the HS.

I also reminded the CUSD Board that we are currently paying on 3 bonds and the extended parcel tax. The Wavecrest bond payments should terminate around 2020 I believe, but that is small potatoes to the $81 Million borrowing authority they received in 2013 that will last for Forty Years and will require between $150mm-$200mm payback over that time, assuming no glitches.

Further, while I told them I opposed that $81 Million bond measure, I also told them that if they were to place a measure on the ballot that spoke only to bussing, I’d vote for it. That is how strongly I believe school bussing is to and for our community.

School bussing alone won't "solve" all our circulation issues, but it will help a lot and is a good start.

Mayor Fraser (City) thanked me for my comments at the City Council meeting, followed by ‘next speaker’ and two of the CUSD Board members were very polite and suggested I contact the CUSD Superintendent, which I plan on doing.

In the meantime, I thought I’d put it ‘out there’ to see is anyone has any other ideas and to get some feedback.

Thank you.


Comments

I think it's a great idea, George. What was the previous budget when talk was of outsourcing? Do you remember?


If memory serves, Coasters, I believe it was about 1/2 what it is today - $12mm to $14 mm. For the life of me, I'm having trouble recalling just how much of the budget bussing was. I can find out with some effort, but if memory serves I think it was just under 15% ... but even I don't trust my memory on that. I'll check and let you know.

I do know, as I mentioned last evening, that just under 90% of the CUSD Budget goes to personnel. That is a staggering amount and doesn't leave out trustees with a lot of wiggle room. Here is the "Multi-Year Projections 2013-14 Adopted Budget" Web Link


Wasn't there some damn fool running for City Council during the last cycle that kept yapping at every forum and debate about how he would make it a priority to force the City to collaborate with CUSD to provide bussing once again?? Something about this being a community problem, each bus representing something like 40-60 cars (or more) off the road each morning, decreased emissions, happy tree-huggers, commuters and all the rest.

If the school district is either unwilling or unable to provide this service then the community at large is well within its rights to find a way to make it happen.

Damn, I can't remember that guy's name. Oh well, you get the idea I think.

One footnote: While I obviously agree with the overall thrust of this thread, widening Louis Foster Drive to three lanes is at first (and second) glance not only a non-starter, it would make things worse. (The only person this would benefit as far as I can see is the developer trying to develop the Podesta property and the adjacent parcel that borders Louis Foster Drive.) The only way you could ease the bottleneck a three-lane LF Drive would create would be to place a light at LF Drive and Main Street, which would work about as well as molasses on a cold winter's day.

Other than that great work George!!

dce


Measure S which corralled 81 million dollars certainly should allow for school buses or free up CUSD monies for school buses.


Yes it surely should.

Unfortunately the School district is essentially saying "not my problem man!!" and to a point they are right. Which is why I think the City needs to drive this process. Circulation is a City mandate and operational concern. Thus the City should be able to exert some amount of cooperation/pressure to get CUSD to play along and make this stuff better for all of us.

Cheers,

dce


Every once in a while I get an idea. Maybe somewhere between 1%-10% of those that I actually come up with are worth a damn.

That name you seem to have lost in your memory might be your own (smartass). You did speak to this matter during your campaign ... but you won't be the first or last. It is a good idea and it is doable and I am promoting it. Jump in, the water's great.

Regarding three lanes at LF Drive, I disagree in that I see multiple benefits, for the school, the District and the entire coastside, in terms of circulation and emergency access. It is not my preferred option, if I had to choose just one (that would of course be bussing, as it has a much broader reach and will produce larger and longer beneficial results), but it is another idea that IMHO offer some relief.

Hugs and kisses wonk; now let's get this party started!


Unfortunately the School district is essentially saying "not my problem man!!"

That's a two way street, now, isn't it?


School busing is a battle worth fighting for!


Yesterday a COUNTY OF SAN MATEO CABRILLO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT bond opened for sale. It was immediately oversubscribed (I tried to buy, but missed the window). It brought in MANY millions of $$$$ to the district and I'm guessing buses will NOT be on the To DO list.


It would have been a good bet for you, Mr Gruver. According to most data out there, we are a wealthy community. Unfortunately, that wealth doesn't seem to make it to my door, but ...

I'll go one step further and agree with your conclusion, which of course I believe is a mistake and another unfortunate circumstance.

But we can, through public awareness and public pressure change that going forward. All we need do is make the effort.


CUSD contracting out its bus service would result in a CSEA unfair labor practices lawsuit.

Web Link


I'm not quite clear FoggyDew. Are you suggesting that again we see jobs before kids? and that just to rub it in our community's face the employees of the CUSD would take their union money and sue us as a community because our kids finally have bussing again? This I gotta see (and I seriously doubt).

We stood up against the money grubbing firefighter's union from over the hill and kept them out with a resounding 65%-35% win - in their face. And you suggest we might get another crack at this?

While that settles, maybe another perspective might be appropriate here. The contract you link clearly states "2012-2013 through 2014-2015 school year". If I've learned anything in my dealings with local Agencies (well, all Agencies really) it's that things move Veeerrrryy sllooowwwly. I don't think it possible for the CUSD to even think about bussing for this, the 2014-2015 school year; but the groundwork can and should be done this year to move forward for next year.

Here are some of the practical matters that will have to happen; 1) the CUSD would have to agree to explore the possibility 2) for that to happen, funding would need to be explored 3) once those ducks are lined up (and that will take a while because if the CUSD or anyone else really wanted bussing, we'd still have it - nobody wants to pay for it ... everyone cries broke), the next step would be for CUSD to send out Request For Proposal (RFP) to see what contractors might be interested and at what price. The details, things like routes, times, etc would need to be laid out). The City could be the lead Agency on this too, if need be or desired.

Once all the responses to the RFPs are received, they would need to be examined. Likely there would be much discussion on the routes and responsibilities, etc. I think you might now see where I'm going with this.

In the end, it will take the cooperation of multiple Agencies and funding sources to put this together, even as a pilot program. It will take time. The driving force behind it all will be our community - our entire coastside community, and it will/should be based on what is most important to our community - CSEA jobs? or the education of our youth?

This will be a group effort, as I see it. And although I wish bussing had never stopped, we have the where-with-all to reinstate it now - but we should understand that "now" in terms of government Agencies means if we start the ball rolling right away (most would call that now), we might actually be able to see the rewards of those efforts in the next school year (but likely the one following - which is as close to now as a government Agency can get to "now" ).

Aren't definitions fun? It's all a matter of perspective.

I'd add here that CA public schools will be receiving more than expected this year from Jerry. Seems the CA economy did a little better than expected and our Governor has said he will amp school funding with the surplus.

The money is there. We can do this. We should do this. It is the right thing to do. The first and most important step is to approach this matter with a "can do" attitude as to what we will see from some, as is exampled just above by FoggyDew (no disrespect meant FoggyDew).

Forget about the Agencies for just a moment. Do we want bussing? Are we willing to drive (play intended) the issue? If the answer to those two questions is Yes, we can and will see bussing in this District again.

Thank you and I hope I didn't offend anyone; no offense was intended.


Read it and weep! I'm with you George!

Sorry folks you'll have to copy and paste in your browser! I need to learn how to do a weblink.

Web Link


Oh the miracle of technology! Submit the weblink and it does by itself...fascinating!


Good find AFOGGER. Even though it is a little over 3 years old (09/02/11), it demonstrates a lot of what we have here and are discussing.

The implication is simple, from a basic standpoint; either we bus or we educate. My response, for our District anyway, is we can do both. As stated above and in other locations, we just have to a) want it b) get creative 3) work together.

I realize that's a very simplistic approach, and I could make it more complicated, as I'm sure nay sayers will, but it really is that simple when you boil all the BS out of it.

Another thread might provide some of the objections mentioned; Web Link

Thanks AFOGGER. Another piece to this puzzle and it is appreciated.


Here's something a little more up to date (2014) from the State's Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) on school busing in CA. There may be some hope yet for this successful program of a bygone era! I miss the era when school boards recognized their first responsibility in attempting to educate the populace was getting the kids to the schools.

To many education budget cuts here in the wild west, one of the 10 most wealthy states in the good ole USA!. Most other states still bus children to schools!!

Does anyone else notice the reduction of traffic on Highway 1 during school vacations and the summer months?

Web Link


Since we're on a "school" related topic, let me fix that typo!

Too many education budget cuts...

I'd love The Review to cover the LAO report and do some follow up with CUSD on any lobbying efforts, networking etc. the Board could see their way to doing. Yes, that is what School Boards do!!

Of course it would probably also be useful if they were members of the State School Board Association and the National School Board Association and attend some meetings to see what's going on throughout CA and the rest of the country. They are great resources!


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