Wake school board restores after-school bus routes

Staff writerAugust 30, 2010 

Wake county school buses are lined up in this file photo.

N&O FILE PHOTO

— Wake County school board members voted today to restore the after-school activity buses that provide rides to students who stay after class for sports, tutoring, extracurricular activities or other purposes.

At a special meeting called to reverse the board's elimination of the buses, chairman Ron Margiotta said he and other board members had not realized the money was cut in the budget they approved this summer.

With only five members in attendance, the board conducted its shortest meeting in recent memory, about 30 minutes. Reaction from board members and families brought about the change, members said.

"I'll take responsibility for the rest of board," Margiotta said. "We messed up by not realizing that these activity buses were going to be removed."

David Neter, chief business officer for the system, presented a financial plan under which the buses could be restored.

"Staff has identified a primary source of funding," said Neter, citing nearly $28 million that the county is to receive in a federal education jobs grant. It will cost $185,000 to pay drivers more to operate the after-school routes, Neter said.

Another $500,000 will be needed for fuel, which the system is buying at lower cost that originally planned. In addition, fewer buses are being operated this year than planned. The money beyond the federal funds would come from other school board sources.

Bob Snidemiller - Wake's senior director of transportation, operations and finance -- said schools will be surveyed to determine the need for buses this year.

An increase in fuel prices later in the year or a need for additional bus runs could have an impact on the after-school activity buses later in the year, Neter said.

The decision came at a special called meeting of the board less than a week after traditional-calendar schools started. The decision to cut the activity bus funding came during budget deliberations earlier this year and produced little debate at the time.

"I was able to communicate with all the principals in my district," said board member Deborah Prickett. "They do seem to have a need for it."

Members John Tedesco, Carolyn Morrison, Debra Goldman and Dr. Anne McLaurin were absent from the meeting, which was called late last week.

thomas.goldsmith@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8929

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