Taking advantage of every opportunity to save some cash, the Malverne Board of Education adopted a new transportation policy Tuesday that will allow them to provide bus service based on ridership.
More than a dozen public and parochial school parents crammed into the small conference room of the central administration building on Aug. 9 for a special business meeting.
"There's no intention here to deprive anyone of the transportation the district has authorized," said Malverne Superintendent James Hunderfund.
In the past, the district was mandated to provide a bus seat for every child in the district who applied and qualified for transportation regardless of whether or not they actually use it.
"Many children qualify but don't necessarily take the bus...so you're providing a bus that usually has lots of room for people that just aren't there," Hunderfund said.
However, recently the district's attorney informed officials of a new provision that allows school districts to provide transportation to students "based on patterns of actual ridership."
"We could save money by this ridership count by sending a smaller vehicle at lesser cost to the contractor," Hunderfund added. This wouldn’t apply to all the buses the district leases, but to those that charge based on head-counts.
Tom McDaid, the district's business administrator, explained that they would monitor ridership on the buses, looking for patterns.
"When we see on the ridership that these seats aren't being used we'll tell the company...and we'll be able get a savings by not having to pay for that seat,” said McDaid, who assured parents that the district would speak with them first before making any changes to their child’s service. They would ask why the student is not taking the bus and if he or she plans to use it in the future.
Changes could also be made throughout the year too so if a child only plans to use the bus during the winter months or when a certain sport is in session, the district would only pay for the service when it is needed. They would also work in a 10-percent leeway so there would always be a few extra seats.
"If people aren't using the buses why should the district have to pay for it," McDaid said. "In the end it might not be a great amount of money that we will save but we all know that every little bit counts."