Short on funds, Indiana district cuts buses, lengthens routes

Thomas McMahon
Posted on July 18, 2014
Muncie Community Schools has redesigned and rebid its school bus routes to cut costs.  Photo by Kolin Toney. Edited by SBF.

Muncie Community Schools has redesigned and rebid its school bus routes to cut costs.
Photo by Kolin Toney. Edited by SBF.

MUNCIE, Ind. — After a year that saw a transportation referendum defeated and a waiver to end school bus service denied, Muncie Community Schools has taken another approach to deal with its funding shortfall: redesigning and rebidding bus routes to cut costs.

Muncie Community Schools has been faced with what Superintendent Tim Heller called “a very severe shortage of funds to operate yellow school buses” because of heavy losses in property taxes in the district.

In November, the district held a special referendum election in an attempt to generate future transportation funding. The referendum, which would have raised property taxes by 22 cents for every $100 of assessed property value, was defeated.

Muncie Community Schools then petitioned the state for a waiver on the three-year notice that is required to cease school bus service, but that waiver was denied.

However, Heller said recently that the district still recognizes the need to provide transportation for its students.

“The socio-economic demographics of our community make a very compelling case for the need for yellow school bus service,” the superintendent wrote in a recent message to parents. The district “has never questioned the need for this service; adequate funding remains the issue.”

Now, Muncie has redesigned and rebid its school bus routes for the 2014-15 school year and beyond. Heller said that the goal was to create efficiencies in operations and to lower the overall cost of operating school buses.

The district didn’t change its requirements on how far students must live from school to qualify for transportation service. The key changes are that most of the new school bus routes are longer and will carry more students on each bus, and there are fewer buses overall.

The district’s transportation service will continue to be provided by its longtime contractor, M&M Bus Co.

According to The Star Press, five buses and 17 routes have been cut. The transportation changes are expected to save the district $304,236.

“We trimmed anywhere that could be trimmed,” M&M Vice President Kendra Burgess told the newspaper. “There is no wiggle room. Every bus will be full.”

Muncie Community Schools officials have also said that an uptick in teacher retirements may help the district in paying for school bus service.

Related Topics: budget cuts, Indiana, routing

Thomas McMahon Executive Editor
Comments ( 0 )
More Stories
After starting as a school bus driver, Shannon Evans went back to school to earn a degree in business administration. She’s now director of the largest public school bus operation in the U.S.

10 Fascinating People in Pupil Transportation

Who served as a mechanic for Marine One, the presidential helicopter? Which Texas transportation director was born in Iran? And who used to draw blood for a living? Learn about these and other intriguing school bus industry people in the return of this popular series.


Rhode Island School Bus Driver Strike Ends

First Student and the drivers’ union agree on a contract that includes enhanced healthcare and retirement benefits as well as increased wages, ending an 11-day strike.

Toby McGraw is taking on the newly created role of senior vice president of sales at HopSkipDrive.

HopSkipDrive Names New Executive

Toby McGraw takes on the newly created role of senior vice president of sales. He will lead public and private partnership sales and account management.


VIDEO: Creating Customized Financial Solutions for Your Fleet

Rill’s Bus Service in Westminster, Maryland, has been in the school bus business for 50 years. Learn how they utilize flexible financing options through Daimler Truck Financial to keep their business thriving. For more information, visit

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!