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Audit prompts changes in Roanoke City Schools transportation

Audit shows minor changes could save money

ROANOKE, Va. – A recent audit shows transportation costs in Roanoke City for students are more expensive than other comparable localities, costing the school system more.
    
The city of Roanoke outsources school buses through Mountain Valley Transportation. Thursday, the committee met to talk about ways it can cut costs. During the audit, the transportation committee and the auditor came up with ways to save the school money, as well as better track expenses.

In a time when state funding is lacking, school systems like Roanoke City are working to pinch pennies wherever they can. Steve Barnett, deputy superintendent of Roanoke City Schools says cost is always a concern.

"We are always looking for ways that we can save money in operations in order to spend money, more money on our students and in education,” Barnett said.

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The transportation audit committee met Thursday to discuss the audit's findings.
Most notably, the audit shows Roanoke City pays more per student to ride the bus than other comparable localities pay for their students.

"Our cost per mile seems to be higher than the costs of those from surrounding school districts," Barnett said.

Barnett said as per their contract, costs are estimated per route - not by mile actually driven.

The audit suggests costs could be cut if Roanoke City reported their costs another way, by miles actually driven rather than a fee per route.
  
Barnett says GPS trackers have been installed in each bus to calculate the drives.

"Some of the routes are much longer, some are shorter. I think in the future one of the things we will look at is to ask for Mountain Valley to break out our costs per mile,” Barnett said.

Additionally, Mountain Valley provided a new fleet of school buses when their contract first began. Barnett says that reduces the amount of money spent on repairs, doubling current bus lifespans, allowing the city to keep a bus for up to 14 years without being forced to replace them, which will save money in the long term.


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