Saturday, March 16, 2013

LETTER: The Office of Superintendent of Instruction appears to have erred on transportation efficiency ratings

Susan Wilkins said...
Being familiar with school bus transportation here in Redmond and having recently written about how bus transportation could be improved, it seemed odd that the OSPI would rate the Lake Washington Transportation Department at 100% efficient.

I visited the OSPI website and reviewed the supporting documents and reports that were posted with the school district transportation department efficiency ratings. The OSPI’s Efficiency Detail Report for the Lake Washington School District listed LWSD as having 12,924 basic riders and 1,210 special ed riders. (Total bus riders: 14,134) It also noted that the district had spent $7,532,315 on transportation in the 2011-2012 school year and determined that the school district’s relative efficiency rating was 100%. The Lake Washington School District has only 25,400 students. The idea that more than 14,000 students ride buses to school each day is hard to believe.  Read More >>

It quickly became clear that the student count totals were wrong – the number of students riding district school buses was far higher than it should have been. School districts count students riding in the morning and students riding in the afternoon to get trip totals for reimbursement purposes. The OSPI was supposed to add the morning and afternoon trip totals together and then divide by 2 to get the average number of riders. So 12,924 basic riders and 1210 special riders actually meant total daily trips, not total number of riders.

The number of riders for Fall 2012 should have been:
Yellow bus: 6964
Metro bus: 1078
Special Ed/ELL/Gifted/Preschool: 454
Actual Total: 8496

The OSPI appears to have used total trips instead of total riders when calculating efficiency ratings for all school districts in the state. (An interesting example: Bethel School District’s Efficiency Detail Report from the OSPI listed 17,613 basic riders and 1,470 special riders, but the district has only 17,444 students. Their efficiency rating was also 100%) Little surprise that of 288 school districts in the state, 203 were rated 100% efficient. When the number of riders is correctly reported, the efficiency ratings for all of the school districts will certainly drop significantly.

The Lake Washington School District, as well as most of the other school districts in the state, could certainly find ways to improve efficiency in their transportation departments. They should start looking at ways to improve, even before the OSPI recalculates their efficiency ratings.

By Susan Wilkins, Education Hill, Redmond

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