Fewer bus routes, fewer bus drivers for Pinellas schools
District financial officers are still calculating transportation savings as Pinellas moves toward a system of neighborhood schools, but told School Board members on Tuesday they think the amount could be as high as $11 million.
Changes in the student assignment plan that resulted in the elimination of between 180 and 200 bus runs will reap the largest savings, pegged at about $8 million. That number includes a reduction in personnel, fuel costs and bus repairs, as well as the need to buy new buses.
Now it looks like the district will save an additional $3 million because fewer people will be needed to schedule and maintain the buses. Combining the number of bus runs for children attending gifted programs and "carefully pruning" the number of runs each day has added to the savings, financial officer Doug Forth told the board.
The news came during the board's budget workshop, where a total of $48 million in savings was presented.
Board member Janet Clark asked for a breakdown of the transportation savings, concerned that too many people will lose their jobs. District officials said they expect much of the savings will come through retirements and a reduced need to hire new drivers, but left the door open for layoffs.
"Normally, we don't lose 200 drivers by attrition," said Michael Bessette, associate superintendent for facilities, operations, safety and security.
- Donna Winchester, Pinellas education reporter