SANDWICH- For the first time since its Fiscal Year 2008 budget season, Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School received some recent good news on the transportation front.
Upper Cape Tech Superintendent Kevin C. Farr said that, though the school only received a single bid for its five bus routes, that bid came in lower than anticipated.
This year, Upper Cape Tech will pay $286 per day for its five routes to First Student Inc. Mr. Farr said he expected the cost to be at least $300 per day.
The contract does not feature a fuel adjustment clause, which means that First Student will not be allowed to increase its rates to correspond with rising gas prices.
The contract was a welcome reprieve for Mr. Farr, who throughout the last six months has received mostly bad news on the transportation front.
Last budget season, state reimbursement for regional school transportation dropped for the first time in five years, and as a result Upper Cape Tech’s transportation line item has nearly quadrupled.
From Fiscal Year 2008 to Fiscal Year 2009, transportation costs increased from $585,350 to $698,655. However, although the number of students who attend Upper Cape Tech increased by 23 students in 2008, regional school transportation aid dropped by $130,754.
“It was sticker shock,” said Mr. Farr, referring to his reaction to seeing the projected reimbursement rates when they were released in March.
Mr. Farr said that through the years regional school superintendents and business managers have had an informal agreement with members of the Legislature that they would receive at least level-funded transportation reimbursement.
However, he said that due to the weak economy, especially with lottery and excise tax receipts decreasing, that promise fell through this year.
He said that he has been communicating with legislators in hopes of securing more funding, but to no avail.
“The men and women in the Legislature are working very hard for us, they care about us and they care about our kids’ education,” he said. “It’s just that, in these economic times, there’s only so much money to go around.”
Regional schools, by law, are not allowed to ask for additional municipal funding during Fall Town Meetings.
They are also prohibited from charging transportation fees to their students.
Therefore, Mr. Farr said that he looked within his budget to cover the unexpectedly high transportation line item.
Mr. Farr said that no new teachers were added to the staff at Upper Cape Tech this year, and he added that several capital projects he might have considered previously will now have to be put off.
Upper Cape Tech also maintains an excess and deficiencies account, in which the administration reserves up to five percent of the school’s operating budget.
Traditionally, Mr. Farr said that he likes to use that money to lighten the financial burden to the five town that send students to the school.
Mr. Farr said that, while he would prefer not to, if transportation reimbursement were to continue its downward trend, the school may need to utilize that account to help offset transportation costs.
“I can’t predict that at this time,” he said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Farr said that the school’s buses are being used efficiently, which made the high cost of transportation more bearable.
He noted one bus was carrying 44 students. “At least the buses are full,” he said. “There’s nothing I hate more than to see a bus go by and have it only holding five kids.”
Some Good News For Tech School On Buses
Digg this story!
Printer friendly page
Printer friendly page