GSI Research: Adding It All Up: NJ’s Opportunity to Reduce $200 Million in School Transportation Costs

The second in a five-part series focusing on the true size of New Jersey’s expansive government, how much is being spent in specific categories and, most importantly, identifying opportunities where it can be made more efficient.

Our second installment is dedicated to a data-driven analysis on the state’s student transportation expenses and recommendations to achieve savings of $200 million.

Read a copy of the report below, or click here for a downloadable version.

Some key takeaways from the report:

  • 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.

  • The statewide average does not illuminate the considerable variation among school districts:

    • The middle 50 percent of school districts spend between $1,160 and $3,361 per student and more than 37 school districts spend over $10,000 per student transported.

  • 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.

  • 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.