As the school year starts, the Hawaii State Department of Education temporarily consolidates and suspends routes for four schools on Maui due to a shortage of qualified drivers.
The awarding of new school bus contracts culminates the Get on Board initiative, which the state DOE says has improved service while cutting costs by more than $13 million annually.
The Hawaii Department of Education is looking to help improve the scheduling of sporting events after the school bus contract for Oahu was cut, providing 33 fewer buses. School buses first have to get students home from school before they can pick up the teams and take them to their games, forcing high school football games to end close to midnight.
A Hawaii Department of Education official says that the anticipated savings from Oahu’s school bus reform initiative, which is part of a statewide plan to overhaul the transportation program, is $100,000 more than what officials originally expected by the end of the 2013-14 school year. Meanwhile, the department is expanding service in the pilot area, which includes about 30 schools, while decreasing the number of buses in the fleet.
The contracts will start with the 2014-15 school year — Roberts Hawaii receives 181 routes, and Ground Transport receives 124 routes. This is the latest step in the Hawaii State Department of Education’s “Get on Board” initiative, which aims to reform the state’s student transportation system.
Beginning in November, the State Department of Education's "Get on Board" pilot program will provide school transportation to about 200 more students. The first phase of the initiative restored service to about 350 students at the beginning of the school year.
The state Department of Education is scheduled to kick off its “Get on Board” initiative on Aug. 5, serving as many as 1,000 students at 30 schools who use buses in the Aiea, Moanalua, Pearl City, Radford and Waipahu High complex areas. Officials say one of the more significant features of the initiative is the use of a technology solution that includes routing software, GPS, and an updated and contemporary contracting and procurement process.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie signs two bills that are expected to help the state more efficiently manage its student transportation system. Under one of the measures, the Hawaii Department of Education will not need to require school bus contractors to certify that they pay the same wages as public officers and employees.
The City Department of Transportation Services will increase city bus service on four routes. A transit official says that the move aims to ensure that students "won’t be stranded when school starts."
Facing pressure from lawmakers and the public, state education officials save school bus service for about 300 students. Also, busing for year-round schools is extended for the month of July.
As part of efforts to tackle a transportation budget shortfall of $17 million, the Hawaii Department of Education identifies 103 school bus routes to be eliminated. The move affects nearly 2,400 students.
A Hawaii Department of Education proposal eliminating the need for 190 out of the 513 school buses statewide to save money is not approved by the state board of education, as officials say it could increase staff workload, and student tardiness and absenteeism. The issue will reportedly be revisited at an upcoming board meeting.
State lawmakers set aside 38% less than the requested $42 million for school transportation for the upcoming school year. The state Board of Education Finance and Infrastructure Committee meets to discuss options to address the shortfall, including reducing bus service.