It’s a shame that California school districts even have to consider eliminating free bus transportation but in this awful economy, many communities have either cut back on school bus service or have started charging for it.
The Templeton school district, for example, did away with home-to-school bus service in 2009, for a savings of around $500,000 per year.
It continued to operate a shuttle between its elementary schools, but even that limited service has been in jeopardy on account of budget woes. Thanks to parent involvement, however, the board recently reversed an earlier decision and agreed to reinstate after-school shuttle service between two elementary schools — a no-brainer in our book.
The shuttle runs from Vineyard Elementary, where there is only limited after-school care available, to the more centrally located Templeton Elementary, which is close to home for many students and is near after-school care.
However, the reprieve is only temporary; the shuttle is guaranteed to run only through the end of the semester. The board will decide later this fall whether it can afford to make the service permanent.
We strongly urge the board to maintain the shuttle service and if at all possible, to begin reinstating some home-to-school transportation.
While we understand why districts need to consider all options — including eliminating or reducing bus service — lack of safe transportation for students is a huge hardship for many families. Many working parents simply can’t take off in the middle of the afternoon to pick up their children, and it can be too far or too dangerous for students to walk or ride their bikes.
As one Tribune letter writer put it: “Do I have to choose between my child’s education and my only source of income?”
There should be other options.
The Templeton school district could begin charging for shuttle service, which makes far more sense than discontinuing it entirely. We also urge the district to take a look at what it would have to charge to reinstate home-to-school transportation.
While we don’t like the idea of charging for services that traditionally have been part of a free public school education, it’s far better to provide safe, supervised transportation for all students — at a cost — than none at all.