Fuel costs cause school bus service cuts

August 12, 2008 12:44:10 AM PDT
Steep fuel prices are causing big problems for school districts that still offer transportation for students. With those yellow busses getting about eight miles to the gallon, some districts are balancing the cost of diesel by charging more for bus service or cutting out that service altogether.

When getting your child to and from school in a yellow bus, last year it cost $350 in the Fremont Unified School District. This coming year, it may cost $700 per student.

"Wow that's outrageous," said a father.

Parents are stunned to hear of the proposed increase, but the district says they have no other alternatives, because of rising fuel costs and budget cutbacks.

"I wouldn't be able to do it. So probably a lot of kids are going to end up walking to school that maybe are too young to be walking because their parents can't afford it," said Maria Ayala, a Fremont parent.

Transportation costs are paid out of a school's general fund. So it comes down to choosing between busses and books and teacher salaries. At a public hearing set for August 27, Fremont Unified will also consider eliminating school bus service for junior high and high school students who live within a three mile radius of their school. Some schools would end up with no bus service at all.

"For some kids with a heavy backpack for them to walk to school is very difficult," said Ivy Wu, President of the Fremont Unified School District Board.

Wu knows the hardships it will pose.

"You know they're working parents. There are a lot of families can't afford not having both parents working. They have to find a way to get their kids to school. And actually, the kids who are hurt the most are the kids who need the transportation the most," said Wu.

"I could see it being tough on parents. All of a sudden they've got to be at work. A lot of parents start at 6 or 7 a.m. and they count on the bus system for their kids to get to school," said Christian Ayala, a Fremont parent.

"Some of my friends, their parents can drop them off to school in the morning, but they're at work in the afternoon so they're not able to pick them up. So not allowing the bus would be a problem for them," said Neal Patel a student.

Expect more repercussions in other school districts as well. For example, Gilroy Unified is cutting back on their bus service while San Jose Unified will be passing more costs onto parents. It's a sign of the times.


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