Archive for Thursday, March 7, 2002

De Soto school district increasing bus ridership fees

Base rate raised to $210 annually starting with 2002-2003 school year

March 7, 2002

In its latest cost-cutting move, the De Soto USD 232 school board agreed to increase fees for bus transportation for the 2002-2003 school year.

As they approved the fee increase, board members said uncertainty involving the level of state funding for next year left them little choice.

"It's not the best solution, but it's the only one we can afford," said board member Jim Thomas.

The district first started charging bus fees at the beginning of the 2000-2001 school year. The board hasn't increased the fee since, despite a substantial rise in its costs.

"This is the only way to keep costs down," director of operations Jack Deyoe said.

Deyoe provided school board members with a "fareride scenario" at Monday's board meeting. He developed the fee schedule in response to the board's discussion of possible cost-cutting measures as the threat of reduced state funding became known.

Under the revised fee schedule, students living more than 2.5 miles from their schools will be offered free rides to and from school. But parents of students living within that radius will pay $210 per student that's $60 more than they are currently required. As with the current fee schedule, the charge only applies to two children in a family.

The board also approved Deyoe's recommendation that the district start charging kindergarten students for rides. Exemptions for students receiving reduced or free lunches were maintained.

Deyoe recommended those receiving reduced lunches be charged $105 a year. But after school principals discussed the issue Tuesday, it was decided too many sidewalks will be blocked off from construction at Lexington Trails Middle School to encouraged added foot traffic.

"This is not the year to do it" he said. "We may look at that another year."

Deyoe maintained district buses were still a bargain.

"Lawrence students pay $300 and in Topeka it's $315, so we're better off than many schools around us," he said.

Deyoe said even if parents pay $210 per student, the district will still have to foot much of the bill to run the buses.

"It actually costs $400 (per student) to put the buses out there, so this is really a bargain," he said.

Deyoe said the school district did not raise the cost for ridership last year like many schools did.

Superintendent Marilyn Layman said the conversion of Woodsonia Elementary to an eastside kindergarten center would cut the cost for transportation.

"Children will ride to what would have been their school and then all of the kindergartners will take a bus to Woodsonia," she said.

The idea was not popular with one parent. Kim Lange said she was concerned her kindergartner might get confused and miss the switch to the right bus.

"As the school secretaries probably know, I get worried. I call. I just want to make sure my child's safe," Lange said.

But board members Sandy Thierer and Jim Thomas assured her that her child would be safe. They explained that the district had an excellent track record for getting kids where they needed to go safely.

"I can identify with what you're saying. My daughter had to do the same thing with Monticello," Thomas said. "But I lost the bet to my wife. I bet her that my daughter would miss her bus or get on the wrong bus, and it never happened."

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