Adding It All Up: Interactive School Transportation Database

As a companion to our recent report Adding It All Up: New Jersey’s Opportunity to Reduce $200 Million in School Transportation Costs, Garden State Initiative has created an interactive database that will allow users to compare and contrast each district in the state on the basis of how they rate on a model that compares school districts on a level playing field.

At a cost of $1.2 billion, New Jersey transports nearly three quarters of a million students daily at an average cost of $1,508 per pupil, representing one of the largest outside-the-classroom costs for hundreds of school districts. Based on a model that compares school districts on a level playing field, if every district were able to make meaningful improvement relative to where they’re starting from, they could save close to $200 million overall on transportation costs. But, if every school district just spent at the expected amount predicted by their fundamental characteristics, taxpayers would save $146 million.

Using the data-driven comparison model, our research determined that some districts are spending more than their peers on student transportation even though they have the same basic characteristics. While some factors, such as the number of special needs students, are beyond the control of school district leadership, many are the result of policy decisions at the district level such as so-called “courtesy busing” which is provided to students close enough to walk. We offer a key series of cost saving strategies and recommendations based on best practices from other states such as Maryland and North Carolina, which transport students at costs 30 and 46 percent less than New Jersey, respectively, as well as other existing policies from the state Department of Education.

The fields below will allow you to view individual school districts, or groups of districts to see how they rank, how much is currently being spent on student transportation in those district, how much those districts are spending above or under the recommended amount of our model, what they would be spending by following the model, and the percent difference between the two. Clicking on the button at the end of the row will allow you to view how each district rated on our model (Excels, Satisfactory or Needs Improvement) and further details on each individual district, including the number of students transported along with special needs students and courtesy busing supplied in-district.