Archive for Monday, June 17, 2013

Baldwin school board approves fee for in-town busing service

Baldwin USD 348 students living within 2.5 miles of their attendance centers will no longer receive free bus service to and from school. The school board voted Monday to charge in-town students $75 per year for the service.

Baldwin USD 348 students living within 2.5 miles of their attendance centers will no longer receive free bus service to and from school. The school board voted Monday to charge in-town students $75 per year for the service.

June 17, 2013

The Baldwin school board voted Monday to end free daily bus trips to and from school for in-town students.

The measure, approved with a 5-1 vote with Board President Nick Harris voting no (board member Sheryl Gill was absent), doesn’t end in-town busing but establishes an annual fee of $75 per in-town student for the service.

The change was one of a number of cost-cutting measures the board considered as it looked ahead to a 2013-2014 budget with no increase in state per pupil funding.

The state reimburses school districts for providing bus transportation to those students living 2.5 miles or more from their attendance centers.

Cynde Frick, district financial director, said the revenue from the fee could raise $10,000 a year, depending on how many parents paid the fee for their children. If enough parents opted not to pay, the district could save by reducing the number of bus routes, she said.

It’s not the first time the issue has been before the board. The board received a recommendation in April 2011 from a transportation committee of board members and administrators that the district end all in-town busing. At that time, it was said the measure would save the district from $20,000 to $30,000 per year.

That recommendation prompted a public meeting on the proposal, and in the end the board decided against changing the policy. But the recommendation resurfaced a year ago during budget discussions, when the board again left the policy unchanged but warned that a continuing budget crunch could cause it to revisit the issue.

Discussion of the issue Monday again focused on the safety of elementary students living north of U.S. Highway 56 having to cross the highway when walking to the two primary centers near the western city limits and the absence of sidewalks along sections of the highway and other city roadways.

“Personally, I can’t vote for charging for in-town busing until we have a way to get students to school safely,” Harris said.

Superintendent Paul Dorathy acknowledged there was considerable opposition voiced two years ago when ending in-town busing was first proposed.

“Patrons had strong feelings we shouldn’t end it, but the final thing they said was ‘if you have to charge me, do that but don’t cut it out,’” he said. “That’s why we’re going in this direction.”

The majority of board members agreed the budget squeeze made the change necessary. They expressed hope the board’s action would prompt the city and other jurisdictions to take up the board’s call from a year ago to start studying additional sidewalks and trails as part of a safe-route-to-schools initiative.

In voting for the fee, board member Chad Christie said he didn’t like implementing another fee for service but agreed with board member Bill Busby’s observation that it was a voluntary fee families didn’t have to pay.

Dorathy said those students eligible for reduced lunches would pay only half the fee and those receiving free lunches would not be charged.

The superintendent also informed the board that Douglas County was studying student traffic flow to the primary schools. That study, which he said was possibly being conducted in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Transportation, would be the a needed step toward getting safe-route-to-schools grant funding, he said.


b8es 5 years ago

Oh great, yet one more way that the in-town can supplement the out-of-town crowd. The City folks already have to pick up the slack from the reduced cost of water, sewer, and electrical service the school district gets from the City. Now, we have to pay for bus service just because we happen to live in the City? And the school board's solution to this is to have the City pick up the tab on sidewalks?!?

If you ask me, it's high time the Baldwin Council quit all the handouts for USD 348. Yes, I realize I pay USD 348 taxes too. The difference is that the USD 348 tax base includes everyone in the City plus those that live outside the city. The rural folks are getting a free ride (pardon the pun) on this and many, many other things.


Goldie 5 years ago

Whole heartedly agree with you b8es. From the sound of things I think our school board should work for either the banking or airline industry as they seem to have a knack for finding more and more fees and rates to pass on.


Highstreet 5 years ago

Maybe it's because guvner Brokeback and his tea bagger party are out to dumb down Kansas education by chopping education funding, among many other things, resulting in moves like this on the local level. If you voted for the tea baggers, don't complain.


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