Mr. Green is busy on his world-wide publicity tour for his new book. In the meantime, here's a Mr. Green classic column from August 2007.
Hey Mr. Green,
My biggest peeves with our school district are its irresponsibility with money and its poor priorities. Within the last bunch of years, the district rebuilt and renovated all its schools--the high school, the junior high, and eight elementary schools--built a new administration building, Astroturfed the football field and rubberized the track, and put a totally new HVAC system in the high school. Yet nothing was done regarding traffic flow.
Although busing is mandatory for kids in the third grade and below, students at the junior high and senior high must live two or three miles, respectively, from the school to get bus transportation. No city bus passes are provided. Hence, many parents transport their kids by car. The traffic is horrendous, and the amount of gas being wasted on a daily basis is even worse. Think there's a little hole in the ozone layer over our district? --Sue in Rochester, New York
I don't blame you for being upset. Of course, if I were running the district with my green iron fist, I'd require all those lazy, pampered kids to walk or bike to school, like in the old days.
They'd probably shed more of their junk-food-and-soda blubber with that routine than they would shuffling around the freshly rubberized track, and they'd be having creative conversations and flirtations on the way home instead of getting to the couch quicker and snacking away while stunting their little brains with TV, video games, or the institutionalized narcissism of MySpace.
However, since such a healthy reform would be considered child abuse in today's overmonitored world, I recommend that you estimate how many total miles parents have to drive to haul the kids to school. Then multiply the mileage by 52 cents, which is the average cost of car operation according to the American Automobile Association. Next, compute the total time parents spend on these daily trips during the school year, and multiply it by the average hourly wage in your town. Then add these two amounts and compare them to the cost of extra school buses, drivers, and fuel.
I don't know what result you'll come up with, but I have a strong suspicion that the price of individual car transportation--including both operating costs and time--will greatly exceed that of buses for these kids. People are often amazed when presented with the hidden costs of automobiles--and that's not even considering the health and environmental toll of the emissions from all those traffic-clogged cars.
If you aren't inclined to dig up the data and make these calculations yourself, then you should demand that the school district's bean counters do so. Given the amount of money they've been allocating, they must know something about number crunching, even if they're doing it as recklessly as you say. If the numbers work out like I think they will, the next step is to use this data to lobby the district to make buses more widely available.