City of Manassas

The following was among actions taken at the Dec. 11 meeting of the Manassas School Board. For more information call 361-0166.

SCHOOL BUSING STUDY -- To help save money, Manassas schools should consider several changes in current school busing practices, according to a transportation consultant.

At the board's request, Thomas A. Newman, who coordinates transportation for Arlington County schools, studied ways of the making the school busing system more efficient. The study cost the schools $500, according to a school official.

Manassas currently transports about 4,000 students, roughly 80 percent of the student population. This year's busing budget for its 36-driver and 43-bus fleet is about $1.2 million, a school official said.

At the meeting, Newman recommended establishing a minimum distance for busing of students, except for handicapped students. Now any students who wish to ride a bus are permitted to do so, no matter how close they may live to a school. For example, the school might no longer bus elementary students who live within one mile of their schools and secondary students who live within a mile and a half of their schools. However, the schools would need to make some exceptions, such as for students who live near heavily trafficked roads, Newman said.

Newman also recommended establishing a formal policy not to transport students who are attending a public school outside their regular attendance boundries. The schools currently do not transport students outside their attendance boundries, but do not have a written policy to that affect, according to a school official.

To reduce the schools liability in bus accidents, Newman also recommended that the board adopt a policy prohibiting buses from entering a dead end street in which the bus would need to back up to exit.

School staff is now calculating what the actual savings would be if Newman's recommendations were implemented. They are expected to return to the board with rough estimates in February or March, a school official said.