Jul 26, 2012 8:39 PM by Jacqui Heinrich
Back to school comes with a price for students in Academy District 20. After years of budget cuts the district is raising cash by charging for bus rides.
"It's $0.50 per ride for students who are going to their neighborhood school, $0.60 a ride if they are choicing to a different school outside their neighborhood school, and $0.70 a ride for students outside the district," says Nanette Anderson, a spokesperson for D-20.
Though they're not the first district to start charging, it's a change from what D-20 parents are used to. The school website has a video to show parents how the new program works.
"There were lots of questions. When transportation has been free for a very long time historically, families wanted to make sure that it wasn't going to be a hardship on them, that it was going to be implemented fairly," Anderson says.
In the next few days parents with children assigned a bus stop will receive cards in the mail; they track their kids rides and rack up a monthly bill.
About 11,000 students are eligible to ride the bus, and around 6,000 are regular riders. The administration considers the new fee a way to raise revenue for the transportation department, thereby saving money in the general fund which benefits other programs.
For parents who can't afford the cost, the city is reminding parents of an alternative service they offer: a free carpool matching service called 'Schoolpool'. Parents can fill out a short application online to have their information entered in a database which links parents with children in the same schools.