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ARISE charter school to purchase its own bus fleet

ARISE Academy charter school will soon be the proud new owner of its own fleet of buses, a service most charter organizations contract out.

School leader Andrew Shahan said the decision made sense financially but he was most excited about extending consistency and school culture to students’ daily commute.

“We want stable forces in their lives,” Shahan said during a May 15 board meeting.

Shahan expects used buses to cost between $15,000 and $25,000 each, the projections also account for maintenance and the salaries of bus drivers.

“Twenty years later, we’re saving $1.8 million,” said member Elaine Reyes.

Member Candice Frazier asked if the buses could also be used as a source of revenue.

Director of Finance Tanya Lewis said they may be able to run field trips during the day for other schools, as long as the buses were available for before and after school transportation. The members approved a motion to allow staff to pursue a $325,000 loan, which it plans to pay it back over five years.

The school will store the 12 buses at Mildred Osborne Elementary School. Pride College Prep charter school is currently in the Osborne building, but ARISE will takeover the school on July 1.

Shahan said Sophie B. Wright Charter School is the other school he knows of that operates its own fleet.

The board of directors also approved a technology plan and computer access and use policy, final steps for the school to become eligible for E-rate reimbursements next year. E-rate is a federal program that helps subsidize the cost of telecommunication services. Lewis said ARISE will be eligible for a 90 percent reimbursement because more than 90 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Shahan said ARISE was not previously eligible for E-rate because they shared their building with another school, and one only school could receive the reimbursement.

Shahan said both ARISE and Osborne are almost fully staffed for next year. He hopes to enroll 450 students at ARISE and 308 at Osborne next year. Based on intent to return forms completed by families Shahan is currently projecting 419 students for ARISE and 261 students for Osborne. He said after the next round of the Recovery School District’s unified enrollment system he will have a better idea of expected enrollment.

Members Granderson, Frazier, Reyes, Jen Walcott, Larry Eustis and Tom Snedeker were present for the hour long meeting Wednesday.


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About Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned to New Orleans in the fall of 2014 after covering education for the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with majors in journalism and social welfare and a concentration in educational policy studies.

  • Just a reality check here; it costs more than 30K per year to purchase, maintain and insure a school bus and also pay a driver for it, even if the school bus is a used one. And if their plan is to buy used buses at an average age of five years and then operate them for another 25-30 years, that is a dubious plan to save money. Old buses are very expensive to maintain, and at some point (probably about fifteen years) they become inherently unsafe.

    Back in the day Pre-Katrina, Orleans Parish city-wide (i.e. magnet) schools contracted with the RTA to provide student transportation to and from school. The RTA gave a student discount because they were happy to have the extra passenger volume, especially in mid-afternoon when the school day ends and ridership otherwise tended to be low. And the school board seemed happy to be free of the logistical headaches associated with running bus routes all over the city for its city wide schools, as well as owning and maintaining another fleet of buses. Their specialty was schooling, not transit.

    So–why not give that system a try? Negotiate with the RTA to provide date-specific bus passes for students, and let them get themselves to school.

  • nickelndime

    Unfortunately, these people are not into reality, Alan (but, they are into money first and academics last), but I like your style. If anybody knows what is going on, talk to someone who has driven a school bus (private, public, whatever). Elaine – Please -e -e -e!!!, give the readers a break. Neither you nor the charter landscape will be the same in 5 years much less 20. If you and that nonprofit charter board (you are on) want to save millions, then curb the excessive salaries of administrators and non-teaching personnel and pay attention to what is happening in the classroom (teachers – State certified; teaching and learning; and stop trying to save money by cutting into teachers retirement systems – if you haven’t already done that).