The agreement will save Newport schools money, open additional seats on the district's school buses for younger students and expose a generation of young people to the benefits of public transportation.
"When one considers the cost and benefits of a school bus, a full time bus driver and monitor, maintenance and gas expenses, this is a huge financial savings for our school district," said Newport Independent Schools Superintendent Kelly Middleton. "A school bus will cost about $150,000 and a driver and monitor with benefits will be approximately $60,000 every year. This efficient use of resources should benefit our Newport students, taxpayers and TANK; this is a win-win-win."
Newport Board of Education Chairwoman Ramona Malone said the transportation partnership with TANK is an example of how the district is committed to its students. "Our entire focus in the Newport schools is ensuring that all of our students have an opportunity to get a quality education, which leads to success in all aspects of life," Chairwoman Malone said. "First and far most important, is getting our students to school and getting them there in a safe and efficient manner is a bonus for the students and their families. Providing quality transportation to and from school helps create those opportunities for our kids while saving money for our taxpayers."
Beginning in late November, TANK buses will make four trips each day transporting students in grades seven to 12 to and from school.
Newport Schools are funding the service with no additional subsidy or contribution by TANK funders, said TANK General Manager Andy Aiello.
"This partnership is another example of how cooperation and collaboration work in our region for the benefit of the taxpayer," Aiello said. "By subcontracting transportation to TANK, Newport Independent Schools can focus on their core mission of education while leaving the driving to the experts.” "TANK is always working with school districts, local governments and major employers to help meet transportation needs in our region – providing value to our taxpayers, opportunity for our residents, and economic growth for our community," Aiello said.
Middleton said that many of the district's older students no longer enjoy "riding the big yellow school bus."
"We were just awarded a preschool grant which will require us to move some of our older students off our regular school buses," he said. “Every student, grades 7-12, will now be riding with TANK, freeing up more seats on all our school buses."
Aiello said the partnership also fulfills TANK’s mission of developing life-long bus riders in the region. "This partnership allows students to have a safe ride to school with a professional transit operator and gives TANK an opportunity to educate the riders of the future," Aiello said. "When these students graduate and continue on to local post-secondary schools or enter the workforce, we hope they will be familiar with using TANK and continue riding the service."
The partnership is also another example of the Newport Schools working with other local governments and organizations to save money and improve efficiencies, including:
- Newport Schools providing food service and financial management to the neighboring Southgate Independent Schools.
- Newport Schools partnering with the City of Newport on providing a school resource officer and school bus mechanic.
- The Newport Board of Education supporting economic development projects that have led to millions of dollars and investment in the City of Newport, including the sale and planned redevelopment of Newport on the Levee and the construction of new residential units.
- Newport Schools working with other Ohio River city school districts on shared vocational programs.
"We have been working on this for six months, and I would like to thank the leadership at TANK for all their hard work in helping us cut through the red tape," Middleton said. "I would also like to thank Newport Facilities and Transportation Director Tim Grayson and his assistant, Kathi Baldwin, for closely developing the routes with TANK. This was truly a team effort of two organizations that are committed to an efficient use of community resources."