School district looks into shortening bus routes to meet budget needs | SierraSun.com

School district looks into shortening bus routes to meet budget needs

Renée Shadforth

Whether it’s fuller buses or reduced stops, students who take the bus will likely see changes on the first day of school in September. As part of $500,000 in recent budget cuts, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board voted in June to reduce its transportation budget for the third year in a row. The result of the 10 percent cut is $150,000 sliced out of the budget that gets students to and from school on the bus.The district’s transportation department has come up with several options to make reductions. One set of options includes reductions in bus stops on Donner Summit, Donner Lake, Tahoe Donner, Prosser Lake, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Kings Beach/Crystal Bay. Changes in routes would affect students in all grade levels. The school district has sent a survey home to all parents whose childrens’ routes would be affected by cuts. The school board will also take input from parents on bus route reductions at a meeting on Aug. 16 at the school district office. The transportation department has been able to reduce approximately $130,000 from its budget after five bus drivers either resigned or retired after last school year. Those drivers will not be replaced and their routes will be absorbed into existing routes. That means most buses will be packed with students, many with three to a seat, said Nanette Rondeau, director of transportation.”Because of the positions eliminated, all routes will be affected and more crowded,” Rondeau said.By reducing operations and supplies costs – like cutting back on cell phone use – she said she expects to save another $9,700.The transportation department has also eyeballed another $30,000 in potential revenue sources – which would tip the savings well over the $150,000 mark – but Rondeau said she wants to make school district transportation more efficient by reducing the stops that serve the least amount of students. However, there is a trade-off when it comes to closing school bus stops and safety, Rondeau said – especially in the winter, when students would be walking greater distances from the bus stop to their homes.”Students are safer on a school bus. The more vehicles on the road the more danger,” she said. “We really feel in this department that the safest place for students to be is on a school bus.”