BY EILEEN PERSIKE
Superintendent Kelli Jacobi gave the Rhinelander Board of Education some good news Monday. A “critical change” made this fall to the way the school district provides transportation, Jacobi said, could mean a six-figure savings per year.
“Normally, we…automatically provided transportation for all students who qualified according to policy,” Jacobi explained. “What we found out is not all of our students wanted transportation.”
There were buses on the road that were not full, many not even half full.
“Based on what we were seeing with capacity, we know that we have a lot of students picked up by parents,” Jacobi said.
So beginning over the summer, parents were asked to sign up for busing, thereby ensuring the students who need transportation have it. Every two weeks, the district communicated with parents, using automated messages, radio spots, newspaper ads, and back-to-school information.
“We were able to reduce — and this is just the beginning of the year — three bus routes,” Jacobi said. “That may not sound like a lot, but that could be upwards of $100,000 in savings. That’s huge.”
Jacobi said the district’s transportation contract with Bowen’s Bus Service is based on what the needs of the district are, adding that Bowen’s “works hard” to work with her, and “look at what’s best for the district.” Depending on district enrollment and transportation needs, the number of bus routes could increase or decrease.