A consultant hired to study Hawaii’s student transportation system concludes a major, phased-in redesign of school bus processes — focusing on changes to contracting and oversight — will address escalating costs, but stresses the overhaul will not be easy or pain-free.
In a lengthy report released today, consultant Management Partnership Services also said the costs for student transportation in the islands far exceeds national norms and are among the highest in the nation.
The report says Hawaii spends about $86,500 per active bus route each school year, or about $1,750 for every student rider.
The price tag for providing student transportation services last school year was $77 million. The cost for the 2005-06 school year was $29 million.
To bring down costs, MPS concludes, will require a “large and complex” redesign of the student transportation services branch in the Department of Education.
“The first required step is one of commitment to a long-term program of change,” the report said. “No stakeholder in this process should be under any illusion that this will be a short or simple process.”
Ray L’Heureux, assistant superintendent of the DOE Office of Schools Facilities and Student Services, said the report provides a “blueprint” for the state as it looks to rein in student transportation spending.
“It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be overnight, but there’s also a clear path forward,” he said.
The state paid Maryland-based MPS $109,000 to conduct the study.
MPS and DOE officials will present the report at a Board of Education on Tuesday and at a legislative briefing Wednesday.