At last weekâ€™s Revere School Committeeâ€™s Ways and Means subcommittee meeting, Revere Public School COO Matthew Kruse was the bearer of some bad newsâ€”Revereâ€™s school transportation costs are skyrocketing.
â€œCumulatively, weâ€™re up 63% with some major increases there,â€ said Kruse. â€œTransportation costs this year are spectacularly higher than they were last year. So that leaves me as the CFO in conversation with Superintendent Dianne (Kelley), the CEO, to make sure weâ€™re on the same page about a few things. One is, how are we covering the current year deficit so that weâ€™re not holding a major problem come spring when we start to close out the fiscal year. Number two, what are we doing to correct the budget for next year, and potentially work on some cost saving solutions as we go forward.â€
Kruse said the first thing RPS did was look at any purchase orders that were closed out from last year that have funds remaining.
â€œIn them, which is very common because students will begin a run and then they will move or they will stop attending that school or that program,â€ explained Kruse. â€œSo those funds become available in the subsequent fiscal year. Then thereâ€™s also some reimbursement for homeless transportation that comes in and helps. So the first thing we did was say weâ€™re going to apply all of those incomes to the problem.â€
Using funds from those surpluses Kruse said RPS chipped away at a $3.3 million problem and moved it down to about a $1.5 million deficit.
â€œThen we were able to allocate some of the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funding (ESSER) that came through for these transportation costs,â€ said Kruse. â€œSo weâ€™re able to reclass costs against the grant. So we are only dealing with a deficit right now of around $100,000.â€
While the City of Revere pays the bill to get the kids to school Kruse and Kelley are preparing to negotiate with the city to up transportation costs in the next budget.
â€œThere are the costs they will need to budget for for next year,â€ said Kruse. â€œSo weâ€™ll be asking them for $9.6 million on the schedule 19 excludable cost sheet to make sure that we are appropriately funded for next year.â€
Kruse said RPS plans to send out bids this spring for the yellow buses and for some additional short bus runs as well.
â€œShort bus runs are going to enable us to save money,â€ he said. â€œJust imagine instead of having four minivans getting kids to a special education school, weâ€™ll be able to just run one short bus to do those pickups. So weâ€™re hoping to cut costs on Special Education, which was the biggest leap this year. By going out to bid for several short bus vendor runs that will eliminate the need for a couple of dozen minivan runs within the city.â€
Kruse said there are some of the measures he and Kelley are working on behind the scenes to close the transportation deficit.
â€œWe are working on all of those things to cover this yearâ€™s deficit, to be amply funded for next year, and to have some cost savings,â€ said Kruse. â€œI just wanted you (the committee) to know because we are talking about millions of dollars of unexpected costs, and wanted to give room for any questions as weâ€™re taking those actions.â€
Committee member Carol Tye said, while she is not blaming anybody for the unexpected costs, she was concerned about increased expenses with a decrease in services.
â€œWe need to keep that in mind,â€ she said.