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President Pro Tempore Sen. Jim Hendren
President Pro Tempore
Arkansas Senate
State Capitol
500 Woodlane St. Ste 320
Little Rock, AR 72201-1090

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92nd General Assembly
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Legislators Study Length of School Bus Routes

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LITTLE ROCK - Almost 60 percent of Arkansas public school students take the bus to school, and each morning they spend an average of about 49 minutes on the bus, according to an extensive survey by legislative analysts. On average, they spend another 49 minutes riding home.
The survey was required by Act 1288 of 2013. Under the Arkansas Constitution it is the legislature's duty to provide an adequate and equitable education and there is research indicating that lengthy student travel time can have a negative effect on students' academic achievement levels. It also can limit their opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities.
The longest average rides are by a few students who spend two hours and 47 minutes on the bus each morning, and the same amount of time on the bus going home. They attend magnet schools in Little Rock but live outside the district.
The shortest average times on the bus are for a student who gets to school three minutes after boarding the bus.
The most common bus ride is for 45 minutes to and from school. The 50 percent of students who are in the middle range, in other words those between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile, spend from 35 minutes to an hour on the bus each morning and again on the bus going home.
It's common for districts to stagger the starting time for elementary, middle and high schools to give bus drivers time to drop off young students and then pick up older ones.
There are 238 school districts in Arkansas and they run 5,360 buses. Every day each bus carries an average of 48 students. Every day, Arkansas school buses drive a total of 5,321 miles.
Bus drivers were paid an average of $9,794 in salary last year.
Over the past 10 years about 60 percent of the public school students in Arkansas have ridden the bus to school. Last year 59 percent of the 460,000 students rode the bus. That is more than 270,000 students.
Arkansas schools spent $184 million on transportation costs in Fiscal Year 2013. Those costs include drivers' salaries, financing vehicles and maintenance.
It would require more buses and drivers to reduce the long ride times. It would cost $2.7 million to limit all bus rides to 90 minutes, and 106 districts would have to add vehicles and drivers. To limit all bus rides to an hour, it would cost $18.6 million and 124 districts would have to add vehicles and drivers.
Lottery Scholarships
The state Lottery Commission projected that in the current fiscal year $78.2 million will be available for scholarships. In Fiscal 2012 the lottery generated more than $97 million for scholarships, and in the following two years the total fell to $90 million and $81 million.
Lottery experts say that in every state where a lottery is created, revenue tends to decline after a few years because the initial excitement wanes. The legislature has had to reduce scholarship amounts because of declines in lottery ticket sales.
Higher education and lottery officials anticipate that there will be enough money to fund scholarships for all college students whose grades make them eligible this year.


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