School bus

The former chief of the Recovery School District, Paul Vallas, says he inherited a "terrible" bus transportation system in 2007. But now, nearly four years later, there are questions about the amount of money being spent and whether the RSD is getting the most bang for its buck in a tight economy.

When Recovery School District buses, operated now by Durham School Services of Illinois, arrive to start the day, they are rarely full. In fact, in many cases there are only a couple of students on board an entire bus. And charter schools are siphoning off more each day.

In the 2008-09 school year, the RSD bused 7,500 students; this school year, only 5,700 kids.

"It’s a bit of a mess,” said Louella Givens, a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Givens said it’s time to rethink the entire transportation system. Now, the RSD buses any kid who lives more than a mile from school. And because the students can go to the school of their choice, the RSD is busing kids long distances, from the lower Ninth Ward to the west bank and from New Orleans East to Uptown.