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Legislative Study of Student Transportation Released

By February 7, 2013 No Comments

The State this week released the results of a study on student transportation. The study provides recommendations on making changes to student transportation for efficiencies through collaboration, use of public transit, in contracts and overall transportation management. General findings were also discovered related to making transportation changes.

Recent state legislation required a study to consider efficiencies that could result from a regional approach to student transportation. The legislation also required that the use of transit for student transportation be considered, and that the study include all geographic areas of the state.

Here is a look at some of the results and recommendations:

Change takes time, and is best done incrementally. Based on experience around Minnesota, the best approach is to start small, building on and expanding existing efforts rather than trying to find global solutions.

  • A clearinghouse of information on strategies to improve transportation efficiency would provide examples of successful efforts that could be copied by other school transportation providers.
  •  Existing entities such as education districts, service units, and special education cooperatives could serve as the foundation for making regional or collaborative transportation plans, since they already have the systems of communication in place.

Changing a system such as transportation in a school district requires a high-level administrator to take ownership and provide sustained leadership over time. However, superintendents are often, appropriately, fully consumed with the challenges of instructional leadership. It is difficult for high-level administrators to find the time needed for attention and leadership around modifying their transportation system.  (p. 5)

Incentives to promote collaboration may be needed, since under the current funding formula for student transportation districts typically look for internal, not external or collaborative, efficiencies. In particular, incentives would be helpful for doing up-front research and design of collaborative opportunities. (p. 3)

The full legislative study on student transportation includes these findings, as well as case study reports of Minneapolis, Little Falls, Marshall and the West Metro Design Team, and an expanded list of individual innovations and suggestions that came out of the survey and interviews.

The Department of Administration contracted with the Improve Group, an independent research and evaluation consulting firm in Saint Paul, to conduct the study.View the full report on the study