Where was JCI’s transportation study?

Since saving energy has been one of the prime justifications for tearing down and rebuilding so many of Duluth’s Schools I can’t help but wonder at one of the biggest voids in the self serving JCI analysis of our schools – transportation costs.

When Let Duluth Vote was talking to the State Education folks they kept asking us for information on transportation. I for one kept scratching my head over this because I couldn’t believe the District hadn’t handed something in to the state about this considerable expense. They still haven’t.

When I was on the Board we hired a firm to do some extensive studies to guide us in making more effecient bus routes. We compared the costs of our busses with those of private contractors and the City busses which were allowed by special legislation to carry our students to and from school. We bought an expensive software package that allowed us to plot the homes of every one of our students and caculate many possible bus routes. This makes such a study today a piece of cake. Our board saved a bundle (half-a-million dollars a year is the figure that sticks in my head) on transportation without kicking any kids off the bus.

Why wouldn’t JCI be interested in a little cake? Well, closing schools will mean longer distances for busses to travel and more kids being driven to school which will increase fuel costs, especially with gasoline at $4/gallon. Having the school board learn this might have made JCI’s project a little harder sell. How much will these costs offset the savings of JCI’s energy conservation enviornmental controls? Who the heck knows? That’s probably the way JCI wants it. Ignorance may not be bliss but it can be profitable.

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