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INFORMATIONAL LETTER: 126

POLICY CODE: EEA

 

TO:                     Superintendents of School, Business Managers, and Transportation Supervisors

FROM:               Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner of Education

SUBJECT:          Vocational School Transportation

DATE:                May 12, 2005

Maine ’s regional vocational schools provide some of the finest technical training available for students.  The concept of a regional approach for vocational centers works well in affording these students the opportunity to participate in this type of learning, and is a fiscally responsible way of combining resources to achieve an end.

However, not all components of this process are truly regional in design or function.  In the case of school bus transportation to and from regional centers, it is apparent that this vital aspect of the vocational school process could play a more integral role in fostering an even greater degree of regional cooperation between districts.  As part of the EPS transportation model, this type of transportation has also been examined to determine what makes sense from a fiscal stand point.

An example was recently brought to my attention that illustrates this point.  Portland Arts and Technology (PATHS) is a vocational school accepting students from a major portion of Cumberland County.  As such, approximately fifteen (15) school buses arrive and depart this center on a daily basis.  Many of these buses are large conventional type buses whose capacity is not fully utilized.  Most of these buses also originate in adjacent districts, or even pass through other sending districts on their way to PATHS.

In cases where students are not impacted in terms of longer rides for example, districts should be examining this type of transportation for possible combinations that could lead to a reduction in the amount of transportation necessary to adequately transport all students to each vocational school.  By doing so districts could realize savings in fuel, maintenance, and labor costs.   In addition, fewer vehicle emissions would be generated and, the driver shortage issue would be improved through a reduction in the number of buses required to complete the transport.

It’s my recommendation that superintendents meet with transportation directors throughout the state to thoroughly discuss how this type of transportation is offered and to examine the possibility of districts combining resources in an effort to achieve greater transportation efficiencies.  Directors of vocational education programs, facilities or regions should also include this as an agenda item for discussion with all sending communities.

If you have questions regarding the design and implementation of transportation efficiencies please contact George Jones at the Maine association for Pupil Transportation at jonesgp@attglobal.net or Harvey Boatman at the Department of Education at harvey.boatman@maine.gov.