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As Long as We Remember...

August 6, 2002

How many buses and schools?

Mike Kuster

With the upcoming election of the Board of Education, here are some questions for candidates to ponder. Hopefully, you will have some questions, too.

Question #1

How many buses does it take to transport students of Heather Ridge?

For those who don't know, Heather Ridge is the school for children with disciplinary issues. The school provides smaller classes with more individual attention to the needs of students. It also provides more Ritalin.

The students also receive special busing. In fact, they receive what this writer considers first class busing. Yes, they still ride the big yellow bus with black stripes. According to several bus drivers, Heather Ridge students get individual treatment.

That's right; students get a personal transport in the bus, an average of one student per 40-passenger bus.

As there were 633 students at Heather Ridge last year, those bus drivers must be exaggerating, but there is at least some truth to their claims. This writer witnessed quite a few students riding solo during a drive-by at the close of school.

Why is this? Can't we just put a bouncer or two on the bus and fill it with students?

How much does this cost? If the bus drivers' outrageous claims are correct, that's 1266 bus trips for one school per day.

Is this why we have a shortage of bus drivers? Is this why we pay someone to drive a bus around the county with a billboard seeking drivers?

Question #2

How many buildings need to be open for summer school?

This summer 3,200 students attended summer school. That's less than 8.5% of the student population.

So, how many schools were open this summer?

Not five schools (which would be 9% of the school buildings)!

Not even 10 schools!

Thirty-seven schools operated summer school this year! That's about 87 students per building! During the school year, that would be about three classrooms. During the summer, they get the whole building!

Now, you may not think that's so bad. Don't forget that an open school requires office staff, administration, janitors, teachers, electricity, water, cafeteria staff, etc.

Wouldn't we be saving a lot of money by shipping these 3,200 students to two or three of our high schools. Then, we'd have two or three buildings to worry about instead of 37!

More questions can be asked. Frederick County Public Schools spend a tremendous amount of taxes each year. As with any large organization, spending is hard to control. Sometimes, our leaders just need to be aware of a problem. So, ask your questions.

Electing members of the Board of Education is a right that should not be taken lightly. Be informed and inform the candidates of issues important to you.

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