July 16, 2013

Hoover City Schools plans to halt school buses starting in August 2014.

The school system’s Board of Education made the decision at its July meeting, citing saving $2.5 million annually to redirect into classrooms as it primary reason, according to a release.

 “There are numerous complexities involved, but the fundamental issue as to where we need to commit our financial resources is basic in nature,” Superintendant Andy Craig said in a memo. “Therefore, I am seeking your support for a change I believe is a crucial component in helping financially reposition Hoover City Schools and enable us to provide quality education for the long term.”

Craig went on to cite pressures on the system’s financial operating model, as enrollment has increased while revenues decreased.

According to the memo, the system’s revenues on a per student basis have decreased from $13,715 to $11,356 from 2008 to 2012. This represents a cumulative operating revenue loss for that four-year period of $96.8 million dollars. Annual revenues for 2012 were down $31.6 million from 2008.

In response, the system has cut expenditures for instructional costs by 6 percent and instructional support costs by 10 percent, which cut 110 teachers from the system on a per student basis from 2008 to 2012.

“Despite these significant cuts, Hoover City Schools is still currently operating in a deficit position — a position that is' unmanageable and unsustainable if we are to achieve our teaching and learning goals,” Craig said in the memo.

The Board decided on the August 2014 start date in order to allow time for parents of children who currently ride buses to find alternate forms of transportation to school and for bus drivers to find other employment, according to the release.

Beyond the change in transportation services, Hoover City Schools said it plans to continue to analyze and implement strategies to stop declining financial operating trends, recoup lost capacity, and position the school system for sustainable success.

What do you think about this decision to cut school bus transportation? How will it affect you? Comment on this story or email rebecca@hooversun.com to voice your opinion. We want to know what you think as we work on a more in-depth story about this issue.

July 16, 2013

Comments (4)

Comment Feed

Good, responsible decision!!

While the decision may be a big change for Hoover City Schools families, it represents a responsible decision for long term financial stability of the school system. Bus riders have one year to determine a plan for school transportation which could include car pooling/ride sharing, bicycling, walking and other green forms of transportation. No bus service has never hurt the quality of education, graduation rates, crime rates or home values for the Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills or Homewood school systems.

Sally Rogers 276 days ago

Totally Fine With Us

We would rather have the $2.5 million go to the classrooms and additional teachers than bus service. If Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook can operate excellent schools without bus service so can Hoover. Get to know your neighbors and classmates and carpool, ride your bikes, walk, etc.

Mark Coors 278 days ago

Not Acceptable

We live in a really great city. Under our current city council we've grown to be one of the best in the state, if not in the Southeast. One of the things that has made us a great city is our school system. Our administrators and teachers are second to none.

I have four children that have gone through the system. My first one started in 1992 and my last one will graduate in 2014. I've had at least one child in the system for the past 22 years. And we've used the buses.

But this is not about those of us who are "middle-class" in Hoover. This is about those 21% in Hoover who are considered to be "low-income", those whose kids get a free or reduced cost lunch because of their income. These families are in Hoover because of our schools. Because of our neighborhoods. Because this is a better place to live. But in order to live in Hoover, they have to make sacrifices, one of which is to work before 8am or past 3pm. And in order to make that happen, they rely on the buses to get their children to and from school in a safe manner.

Thanks to today’s economy, many households are forced to have both parents working. What are they supposed to do? It's not so simple to "make plans" for 2014 and beyond. OK, perhaps if you live in Greystone and are one of the highest compensated people in your position in the state it is.

But for most of us it’s not. I've attended almost every school board meeting since 2007 and feel we finally have a board that represents everyone in Hoover. Well, almost everyone. Those 21% are still not represented. And by approving this measure, we can see that they probably won't be until someone is appointed to the board that has their interests in mind as well.

We went through a "sky is the limit" spending mentality from 2006-2008, when spending $1.5M on turf for stadiums or $265,000 for facilities at a soccer field was nothing. Several people warned of the consequences back then but few would listen.

Perhaps the school system needs to do what the rest of us have had to do: tighten our belts. And perhaps our city council needs to revisit the funding issue for the schools. In 2006 the city was giving $7M to the schools. Today it’s less than $2.5M . The excuse was the economy, yet last month numbers came out that indicated that revenue was increasing again. Time to up the ante, Mr. Ivey.

Hoover as a whole depends on the school system not only for our children’s education, but also for home values. A good school system raises home values, so even if you don’t have a child in the system, this action (and really ANY action) by the school system affects you.

I encourage you to write or call the school board members asking them to reconsider this senseless action. I’ve set up an e-mail address that sends an e-mail to all of them, plus to Andy Craig. That address is hooverboe@hooverinvocation.org . Also send or call the mayor’s office. His e-mail address is mayorsoffice@hoover.ci.al.us .

Robin F. Schultz 278 days ago

Political leaders with strong will and ethics needed

Mr. Craig's predecessor foresaw the current budget woes but was fired for insisting the city of Hoover continue to provide financial support for the school system. While I respect Mr. Craig I raised similar concerns at that time but they were ignored. Developers have been allowed to over-develop without any financial obligations to ensure some of their profits helped to secure future funding by establishing a trust. This busing decision will mean less productive parents which will mean less tax revenue. Property values will decline, which also means less tax revenue. It is time for our city leaders to take notice and resume their financial support for our school system. The people of Hoover also need to do their part by patronizing local businesses, especially those with a track record of supporting school-based program. If we chose to do nothing and let our political leaders remain idle then we only need to look north of the mountain to see the future of our school system.

Dr. Joe Ackerson 278 days ago

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