Posted June 29, 08
Arkansas Family Coalition
Bob Hester, State Director
Despite $4.00 Gas and Rising
ADE Still Forcing Consolidation
Fuel Costs May Force Some Kids To Walk More Than Two Miles
A number of us warned Arkansas legislators in 2005 that fuel costs would eat up any possible savings with consolidation. Now that reality is here, and our country is in an oil crisis, the Arkansas Department of Education is still forcing a school with almost a 1,000 students to consolidate. See the details of this consolidation in the newspaper article at this link: http://www.nwanews.com/adg/Editorial/229244/
Mike Masterson says in this article entitled "State sandbags Greenland" that this consolidation "reeks of a government agency run amok with power over the smaller communities across our state to the point of dealing with them with stunning arrogance and insincerity."
Can you imagine the extra gas required when you consolidate a school of 1,000 students. The gas for the buses is just part of the consumption. Teachers have to drive farther to their jobs; parents have to make those longer trips to school activities; parents have to pick up students in athletics who have after school practice, etc.; and at $4.00 a gallon (and still rising) how many of them can afford to be involved in school activities?
Gas could go to $10.00 a gallon before it is over; or could be rationed. Now that they have destroyed the local school districts, there will be no way to go back except to build new school buildings, and we won't have the money to do that.
Our country is in a crisis with the oil shortage; if for no other reason there should be a moratorium on consolidation. No studies have been done by the ADE, I am sure, to even estimate the change in consumption of fuel in Arkansas after consolidating 45 school districts since 2003. This is totally irresponsible. Some states are already talking about having 4 days of school a week, cutting out school activities, and eliminating teaching positions which will increase class sizes, and some students will be walking more than 2 miles a day to school. (See bullet points below)
In a newspaper article describing lawmakers arguing over transportation costs here in Arkansas, Senator Argue, biggest proponent of consolidation, "warned against having the state reimburse districts for transportation costs. He said that wouldn’t give incentive to districts to spend money wisely if the state would be paying all the bills." In other words Argue's philosophy seems to be "if they have no bread, let them eat cake." These liberal legislators force schools into situations where they have to spend more money and then blame them for the financial problems they are in and close them down (which just leads to more expense and transportation costs.) See story at this link: http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/227604/
Note the problem caused in other states caused by the increased fuel prices. (See links below for articles)
· "Weast reminded board members June 10 in Rockville. Should prices continue to rise, the school system could save money by raising maximum walking distances for students, because more walkers means fewer buses. Currently, elementary school students walk up to a mile, middle school students 1.5 miles and high school students two miles. " [ How safe will our children be in our day and time walking these distances to school?]
· "You may have to come to a very delicate decision that you'll have to make sometime during the next year if the costs continue to go up," Weast said during a discussion of transportation policy. "A million [dollar] cost in fuel is about 16 1/2 teaching slots."
"In Minnesota, a district west of Minneapolis plans to eliminate classes every Monday to come up with the extra $65,000 it needs to fill its buses' tanks."
· "North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley wants to give teachers a 7 percent raise, but the lawmakers who write the state's budget are also on the hunt for tens of millions to cover school fuel bills. " [Note for those 45 schools that consolidated teachers have had unbelievably increase in fuel costs which means they have actually had real decreases already in livable income.]
· "Rising diesel prices prompted Oklahoma's Education Department to ask legislators there to increase the schools operations budget, while Texas lawmakers have said they will re-evaluate their state's school funding system, which has been criticized as ill-equipped to handle sudden spikes in costs such as fuel."
"When North Carolina lawmakers drafted the state's current two-year spending plan, they estimated a gallon of diesel would cost $1.69 this school year and $1.83 starting this fall. Those estimates proved to be woefully low, forcing state education officials to scramble for an extra $27 million to get the state's school bus fleet through the end of this school year."
States grapple with fuel costs for school buses http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080530/ap_on_bi_ge/gas_prices_school_buses;_ylt=AqTVgREw82x2rw1S7hw1oyGs0NUE
Fuel Costs May Force Some Kids To Walk
Panel rejects rise in schools’ funds (Arkansas legislators fight over transportation costs.)
See story at this link: http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/227604/
See these links for more stories on the Greenland Consolidation story:
GREENLAND : Residents hear school annexation options June 20, 08
State Sandbags Greenland, June 21, 08
FAYETTEVILLE: Board in opposition of Greenland merger
http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/229621/ FAYETTEVILLE : Add Greenland, cut raises: Board awaits state’s call
Bob Hester, State Director
Arkansas Family Coalition
PO Box 9076, Jonesboro, AR 72403
Phone: 870-932-5065 – Fax 870-910-0464