The Pickerington Local School District's busing services were ranked among the state's elite in terms of efficiency and ridership, according to a recent state study.

The Pickerington Local School District's busing services were ranked among the state's elite in terms of efficiency and ridership, according to a recent state study.

According to an Ohio Department of Education “Efficiency Targets” report for the 2011-12 school year, the PLSD has the 30th-largest fleet of assigned buses in the state, but is 14th in the number of students served at 5,474.

Additionally, the study ranked the PLSD second with a ridership ratio of 1.28. That ratio measures the number of transportation-eligible students a district has who ride a school bus.

“What it really means is we’re able to spend less on transportation,” said Dave Decsman, transportation consultant for the district. “That’s the bottom line.”

According to the PLSD treasurer’s office, the district spent a total of $5,472,736 on transportation in the 2010-11 school year.

The district has budgeted $5,349,249 for transportation in 2012.

The Ohio Department of Education provides each Ohio school district with a target number of transportation-eligible students that should be riding each school bus. A number exceeding 1.0 means the district is exceeding its target performance.

Only five of the 15 districts that transport 5,000 students or more reported ridership ratios of more than 1.0.

According to the ODE, the Pickerington district achieved a 1.13 ridership ratio in the 2010-11 school year. Its 1.28 ridership ratio for the current school year represents a 13.3-percent increase in efficiency.

“We found our ridership is up a little bit from last (school) year,” Decsman said. "However, we're doing that with six fewer buses.

“We also had enrollment drop by about 300 kids.”

Decsman said the district and its bus-service provider, Cincinnati-based Petermann Ltd., decided to reduce the number of buses they would operate this school year in an attempt to cut costs amid district budget constraints and projected increases in the price of fuel.

He said the district would have seen greater savings this school year, but it had to add a route for special-education students.

Additionally, he said, the district should realize greater savings in the next two school years because its annual per-bus costs to Petermann, which was given a $22.41 million, five-year contract in 2010, will stay fixed.

“We had an increase in our contractor price this year,” Decsman said. “For the next two years, our price per bus won't change.

“This efficiency is kind of an effort between us and the contractor,” he said. “We look real closely at efficiencies in routes, so (Petermann) should share in the recognition.”