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Welcome to the first blog post featuring an NCSD Board Trustee as a guest blogger. Look for blog posts in the future from NCSD Trustees offering insight and their thoughts on issues important to students, parents, staff and the community.
School Board Report on busing
As a new school board trustee I feel one of my duties is to help the public understand what is happening to improve education in Natrona County.
As I have visited with concerned citizens it seems there is a great deal of dissatisfaction and mistrust regarding how our schools are being administered. I believe much of the dissatisfaction and mistrust is felt because the average citizen hasn’t been educated about what has been done, why it was done, and the way it was done. Also, a lack of understanding on the limitations and restrictions that have been placed upon the Natrona County School District by external agencies like the State of Wyoming, the Federal Government or by previous school boards and administrations may add to the feeling of mistrust and confusion.
There are many problems to deal with in education and those problems are often complex. I have come to understand that the logical solution is not always available to us by law. Plus, there is always a limit to the funds we have available.
With that introduction, let me share with you what I have recently learned about one issue that might interest you. Let’s talk about busing.
For the uniformed, the NCSD has opted to allow schools of choice to exist. (There are those who don’t like school of choice but that is a discussion for another day.) Plus, the school district is required by law to provide busing.
This year NCSD initiated the new busing system that involves a busing hub. There were some kinks that needed to be worked out initially but now the bus hub seems to be working quite well. The busing system takes students from all over Casper to whichever school they choose to attend. On first blush it seems that busing all of these students has to be very expensive and unnecessary. It might also seem we are spending money on busing that could be better used elsewhere.
Here is a quick summary of what I have learned about busing:
Before schools of choice, some of the neighborhood schools were under populated while other schools could not accommodate all the students who wanted to attend school in that neighborhood. Because of that imperfect distribution of neighborhood schools in the past busing was necessary to transport students from their neighborhoods to schools that had more capacity.
The cost of the busing system that is now in place in Casper is not appreciably more expensive to fund than the busing costs before schools of choice became an option.
It is also important to understand that busing transportation costs are paid for by the State of Wyoming Legislature and those funds are separate from the funding that is appropriated for education. Even if we could save money by spending less for busing, that money could not be transferred from transportation to another education related purpose. For example, we could not take money saved in transportation and build a swimming pool at NCHS, for example.
Understand that the NCSD Trustees and administration have been working, and will continue to work to improve the quality of the educational experience in Natrona County. Managing something as large and complex as a school district is no simple task and the Titanic just doesn’t turn on a dime. There is much yet to do, our resources are limited, and government levels above us often take away options we wish were available. In spite of all that we are here to serve you and your children and we want to listen to and respond to your concerns.
Let us know if you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We will continue to make an effort to inform you about the issues we are facing.
Clark Jensen, NCSD Trustee