Archive for Thursday, March 2, 2000

New pay-to-ride busing plan doesn’t sit well with some parents

March 2, 2000

Some DeSoto students are learning early that there are no free rides in life.

DeSoto school board members voted last month to begin charging bus fare for students who live in close proximity to their schools.

According to the plan, families that live within a 2.5-mile radius of their respective schools will pay an annual fee of $150 per student. However, the fee would not exceed $300 a year per family. Students who live farther than 2.5 miles from their schools will not be charged for bus service.

The new policy has been met with mixed reactions from area parents.

Frank Rodgers has one child in school and 4-year-old twins who will soon follow. Although he lives less than a mile from Starside Elementary, Rodgers said he doesn't want his children to make the daily walks to and from school. His only alternative is to pay for the bus service.

"It's going to cost me $300 a year for my kids to ride the bus," he said. "I wonder if it really costs that much. I don't think it costs me nearly that much to take them. I also wonder where all our taxes actually go. They increase year after year and then they also push for more bonds."

John Stumpf also has reservations about the new policy.

"I think they're trying to encourage more kids to walk to school. I used to walk when I was in school and I didn't like it then," he said. "And things are different now. I don't know if I would want my kids to do that."

Although few people like the idea of paying more for anything, some parents believe the school board members simply did what they had to do.

"I can certainly understand the reasoning behind it," Angela Feuerborn said. "With the price of insurance and gasoline going up, the money has to come from somewhere.

The mother of three school-aged children, Feuerborn said she could also understand why some parents might not like the new policy.

"It could definitely be a hardship on some families, particularly those with more than one child," she said.

Feuerborn said the idea might be an easier for parents to swallow if the board would allow them to make installment payments throughout the year. The current plan stipulates that the payments must be made either for the entire year or by semester.

DeSoto graduate Jimmy Harris has a 2-year-old daughter who will soon attend school. Harris said he thinks the 2.5-mile cutoff boundary might be a little extreme.

"If they're close enough to walk, then I think they should pay," he said. "If not, I don't really think it's fair to charge them."

School board member Marsha Bennett said the new fee was simply a matter of economics.

"It's something we had to do because of funding," she said.

Bennett added that she has not heard any negative comments from the public since the decision announced.

"It's something we've been discussing for a few years, so it really didn't come as a surprise to anyone," she said.

The new policy will begin with the next school year.

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