In a recent media report on the transportation fee increase, and in the transportation fee report, the CBE says that parents surveyed support an end to subsidies for transportation from instructional dollars. Calvin Davies, director of CEOP (Community Engagement and Operational Planning) was also quoted in another article as saying, “We toyed around with charging people differentiated rates based on income, but our stakeholder groups told us everybody should pay the same, keep it equal.”
As the only public information of this stakeholder feedback that we have access to is the 2011-2012 budget survey responses, let’s see what the 1,455 respondents had to say regarding this issue of transportation fees. As the released responses do not include the full survey and the responses given, despite a request from ARTICS to do so, we cannot confirm if the exact question, “Do you support subsidizing transportation fees from instructional dollars?” was on the survey. However, we will assume it was and that the response was overwhelmingly in the negative. I am sure that had the question been changed to, “Do you support subsidizing administration/learning innovation/leasing costs/legal opinions/consultants/etc. from instructional dollars?”, the answer would have also been overwhelmingly in the negative. I know this because what was made very clear in the released survey responses was that stakeholders want as many dollars going into classroom instruction as possible, as indicated by the top three budget priorities being, “Maintain class sizes” at all grade levels.
The only place where transportation fees are mentioned in the survey responses is in the last section under, “Preferred Methods to Increase Revenue.” Here, stakeholders were clear that the LAST source of increased revenues should be from fees, whether school based, transportation or lunchroom.
To be clear, ARTICS will not comment as to whether the proposed transportation fee hike is necessary or not. Our mandate is to promote open and transparent information so that stakeholders can properly inform themselves. However, we do question whether or not the CBE is correct in stating that parents surveyed support their current course of action based on the information we have in the budget survey.