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The Value of the Unbiased Viewpoint in Transportation

It was a sensitive, emotional, R-rated incident that made the news. The school district transportation staff could offer a solution, but they were in a no-win situation. Alternatives presented to the Board by Edulog’s outside experts helped smooth the way.

Maybe you have the expertise in-house or maybe you’re strapped for resources. Either way, an unbiased third party provides a unique and credible view that can address sensitive issues.

Edulog’s Advisory Services team has seen it time and again. Here are some stories, modified a bit with names changed due to the sensitive nature of the issues.

1. Responding to a Community Request for Wholesale Transportation Changes

The district’s middle schools and high school students have always been transported together.

One day an 11th-grade boy and 12th-grade girl engaged in inappropriate behavior on the bus. Even worse, it was witnessed by two sixth-grade girls sitting nearby. Parents of middle school students began to demand that their children not be transported with high school students, even though the campuses are co-located.

They noted that, “The age difference is just too much, and they are seeing things that middle school students should not see. We need separate transportation.”

Edulog’s Advisory Services consultants were engaged to analyze the impact and provide data to the transportation department and the school board. While it is not possible to quantify the emotional impact of the incident, it IS possible to quantify how the solution demanded by the parents, would impact the bottom line. Edulog‘s consultants provided an unbiased third-party perspective so the school board could decide how to address the situation.

The district used Edulog’s report and presentation to make a data-based decision balancing the need to protect the students and the cost of the solution requested by the middle school parents.

2. Drawing the Lines Amid Political Pressure

The district historically had a student population, and school locations, dispersed evenly over a large geographic area. However, in the past decade, significant growth has taken place in the northeastern quadrant of the district. It is “the place to be.” This led to a perception of higher quality schools in this area and parents wanted their children to attend those schools.

The growth led to overcrowding in two elementary schools and one middle school in particular. While the overall district was well under capacity, the question for the school district was how to modify attendance areas and without overcrowding individual schools. The school board was caught between a rock and a hard place and needed recommendations based on data rather than emotion.

Edulog’s consultants provided alternative feasible solutions to the Board of Education and quantified the transportation impact of each in terms of:

  • Change in bus mileage
  • Change in driver costs
  • Change in student ride times

The data allowed the school board to choose the option that could be defended as their best solution to the problem while minimizing the overall transportation impact. Not all members of the community liked the changes, but they respected the process that included observations of outside experts rather than the perceived “jaded solutions” generated in-house.

3. Driver Shortage Leads to Changing Bell Times

Driver shortages and budget constraints led the district to seek out savings, even if it meant changing the long-standing opening and closing times of schools. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” as the saying goes.

The district asked Edulog to perform an optimization study to identify route reductions and cost savings for transportation. Edulog identified multiple options, each identifying significant efficiencies, distinguished primarily by the extent to which current bell times would change. Edulog provided a Low Impact, Medium Impact, and High Impact solution reducing 18, 30, and 42 buses respectively.

Using Edulog’s analysis, the Board was able to balance the resource requirements for each solution with the relative impact on families.

Even though the board selected the Low Impact solution, many families were impacted and, of course, not everyone liked the changes in bell times. Despite the varied satisfaction with the results, the Board and the community respected the process of the data-based decisions that were made.

These stories, again based on actual situations, show the benefits of enlisting the support of outside experts, such as the Advisory Services group at Edulog. The experience of former transportation directors and the expertise of data analysts allows Edulog to step in and immediately focus on the issue at hand and provide relevant data to decision-makers.

One transportation director had the following to say about the benefits for his school district:

This was an emotional issue for our community. Edulog’s analysis enabled the Board to see the financial impact of each scenario they were considering.

To read more in-depth about Edulog’s recent Advisory Services consultations, download the extended version of this article.

Download: The Value of the Unbiased Viewpoint

Why Choose Edulog?

Edulog (Education Logistics, Inc.) has long been recognized among school transportation officials as an innovative and effective provider of software and services that empower school districts to do more with less and to be nimble and smart in their planning.

Edulog has spent decades building up tools and expertise to solve complex and, often controversial, issues and provide the unbiased data needed to help districts meet the challenges they face.

Contact Edulog today to see how we can help you.

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