Most of us following education news know that Governor Carcieri's proposals last week include eliminating bus monitors statewide. Not silent on this issue is the Rhode Island's Twelfth blog (hat tip to rifuture.org for this). RI's 12th's latest post advocating keeping bus monitors is here. Scroll down the main page for a few more. The takeaway is: school bus monitors save kids' lives.
Or are they a "costly mandate?" That's how Providence Superintendent Tom Brady is quoted in this ProJo piece on the effect of the governor's cost-cutting proposals on Providence's schools. School bus monitors cost $4,000,000 annually in Providence, says the article.
Of course, in the category of costly mandate is the ongoing commitment to bus students from private schools, not to mention buying their textbooks. Good news, then: if costly mandates are what we're going for, it's nice to know more are there to cut before we resume cutting the heart of our schools' essential programs and services. (I'll save you some Googling if this is new info: citations of RI state law on these points are here.)
There's a flip side argument, of course: pupils' attendance in their home districts is ostensibly costlier than their transportation and books. I don't have time to gather data to test this now, but it strikes me as wrong: with additional pupils comes additional state funding (inequitably distributed as it may be), and, of course, additional public support and advocacy for school funding which could be an eventual gamechanger.
I'll be back with more on how these cuts may affect Providence and what we can do to raise our voices to advocate for the funds our schools need to keep our kids not only well-educated but safe.