Feb 27, 2013 8:02 PM by Annie Snead

District 20: Bus charges mean more money for classroom

One of the more controversial cost-cutting moves by local school districts last year was to begin charging kids to ride the school bus.
Now that we are more than halfway through the school year, we're following up with how that's working out for District 20.
"We expected a slight drop off in rider-ship that would then return to normal, that happened, we've stabilized our rider-ship," said Chief of Security and Transportation Services Larry Borland.
Borland says the process of adding a fee for kids to ride the bus in Academy District 20 has gone pretty smoothly.
"For the scope of this particular project the implementation went far better than i really had imagined it would," he said.
Kids are now armed with cards when they ride the bus and charged a fee for each ride.
"All of those fees really shield the classroom from more budget reductions. When we generate a dollar in revenues on transportation that's a dollar that doesn't come out of the classroom," he said.
Those on free or reduced lunch are not charged and Borland says they've waved fees for others going through a difficult financial situation.
If a child loses their card it's ten bucks to replace it and he says they've replaced a number of them, some families up to five or six times.
Janie Fortney has three kids, two who ride the bus, she says she doesn't like the added fee.
"I was pretty unhappy when it first came up and then as the year goes on and we're paying for it, even more unhappy," Fortney said.
She says their taxes are higher in D 20 and thinks those taxes should be covering the bus system.
"I'm always pro classroom, money going towards the classroom, but again I feel like we're already paying so much in taxes that they should figure out how to put more money towards the classroom without charging us for the buses," she said.
Other changes this year in D 20 included new radio systems on the buses and start time adjustments.


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