Oak Harbor School District has published a very expensive looking brochure about our schools. One of the budget items is called Transportation Vehicle Fund. The brochure states,” The district maintains a fund specifically for purchasing new buses.  This effort seeks to buy two new buses each year so that the district’s 40-bus fleet is replaced every 20 years.”  The budget is for $494,096 in 2010-2001, and, in 2010-2011, they spent $568,000 on said buses. My question: do school buses really cost over $250 thousand dollars apiece?* I understand their last two purchases were used buses from another school district. If these things are true, I have a bridge I would like to sell them. 

I owned a successful business for many years. I know that the most important thing is having a good and solid foundation. Our schools also need this, but, looking at other school districts, one discovers that more money does not mean better schools. Take, for example, the school district in Kansas City that spent billions on school structures only to lose their accreditation.  Oak Harbor High School’s test scores, graduation rates and SAT scores are below that of Coupeville, South Whidbey and Anacortes. The high school has students arriving that are ill-prepared for high school. About 6% of those students that take a full FIVE years to graduate. The school district pays for some students to attend Sylvan learning center, because the schools are unable to comply with federal regulations. The Navy is providing additional money to teach the teachers how to teach math and writing in the elementary schools.  I thought they were supposed to know how before they were hired!  Maybe they do know, but the district micromanages their teaching. Perhaps the school board should address the real problems of how to improve our schools instead of saying we just need more money.

(Submitted via third party)

* Editor’s note: most information on the internet suggests that a standard-size, brand new, school bus costs, at most, in the neighborhood of $85,000 – $106,000. See, for example, this document, titled “Pricing and Ordering Guide For School Buses 2010-2011”. However, this below video may provide some insight as to how or why the prices of buses in the OHSD are skyrocketing, as each school bus is apparently CUSTOM MADE for the customer. The OHSD budget for 2010-2011 (referred to on the above letter), indicates that during the 2008-2009 school year, the OHSD’s ACTUAL expenditures for school buses for that ONE YEAR was $526,591. That year, they also transferred IN to the Transportation Vehicle Fund, $113,338, from the General Fund.