Parent concern once again prompted Templeton school district trustees to reinstate its elementary school shuttle service after cutting it the second year in a row.
The afternoon shuttle will continue through Jan.14, the end of the first semester, at an estimated cost of $17,000, interim superintendent Jean Burns Slater said.
The service, reinstated Monday, was cut in the spring to save the Templeton Unified School District about $50,000. The shuttles last week were popular, Burns Slater said — all the seats were filled on one bus and about two-thirds of the seats on a second.
The district does not track the exact number of students taking the shuttle from Vineyard Elementary, for third through fifth graders, about 2 miles to Templeton Elementary, for kindergarteners to second graders. A parent estimates a total of 150 students take the one-way ride.
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A similar number reportedly used the morning shuttle in the other direction. That run was not restored.
Parents favor the shuttle because it brings youngsters closer to home and after-school programs.All home-to-school bus service was cut by the district in June 2009, saving about $510,000. That decision has concerned numerous parents.
“It’s stressful. I know there were a lot of parents struggling to pick up their kids by 3 p.m. and keep their jobs,” parent Ellen Curtis said.
When the temporary service ends in early 2011, the school board will see whether a permanent fix is feasible, Burns Slater said.
Saving the much-loved shuttle service was touted in recent weeks on the Facebook page “Buses for Templeton Schools.” As of Thursday, it had 118 followers.
“It just seemed crazy to me that parents were left with no way for their kids to get to and from school,” said Curtis, who created the page.
Vineyard Elementary School’s rural setting on Vineyard Drive, where the speed is 50 mph, doesn’t help, she said. “It’s not like kids can walk or ride their bikes. It’s a real safety issue.”
One parent on the Facebook page said she scrambles to get her children from Vineyard Elementary and Templeton Middle School on her 30-minute lunch break.
Posters are now urging followers to keep thinking of ways to get the home-to-school busing “back as a community priority.”
The 2010-11 school year budget will be about $1 million less than last year’s — and that budget was slashed about $1.7 million from the year before, to about $18 million.