School district to charge parents for bus system
TRUCKEE ” After hearing impassioned pleas from the Tahoe and Truckee community, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to charge for transportation rather than reduce or eliminate services.
Teenage mothers from the Sierra High School STEPP (Sierra Teen Education and Parenting Program) used the meeting’s public comment time to explain their predicament ” the school district could cut off the door-to-door bus service it provides the young mothers, their infants and toddlers.
“Our girls don’t just carry backpacks to school,” said Program Manager Cindy Maciel at the meeting held in the Sierra Mountain Community Education Center in Truckee. “They’ve got diaper bags, a baby, strollers …”
Jane Loomis, principal of Sierra High, said the teenage mothers had a nearly 100 percent graduation rate, and counted among the school’s highest achieving students.
Instead of cut services to residents of Donner Summit or programs like Maciel’s, the board voted unanimously to instate a $150 annual bus pass for the district’s some 2,000 bus riders. The decision is expected to save at least $47,000 annually.
“I do not support cutting anything we have,” said Trustee Bev Ducey. “We need everyone to come to the table now.”
Board president Kristy Olk said she felt for parents who are already under financial strain, but compared that strain to what the district is facing with next year possible budget deficit of $4 million.
“As hard as it is to ask people for more … it’s difficult, but so is laying someone off,” Olk said.
Families who are already under a great deal of financial strain and have qualifying children in the free and reduced lunch program will also meet the conditions for free and reduced bus rides.
According to Nanette Rondeau, district transportation director, roughly 1,250 of the 2,000 students who ride the bus would qualify for a free pass. About 265 would qualify for the reduced fare ” $95 ” leaving 485 to pay the full amount.
A number of parents said they approved of charging for transportation but were reluctant about paying the charge for multiple children.
With that in mind, the board approved the measure with a reduced charge for each subsequent student, a model used at the Lake Tahoe Unified School District in South Lake. For the first child a $150 charge is assessed to full-paying parents, and for the second and third child a $50 charge is added on.
A fourth child ” and any more children ” would ride free.
The measures were meant to reduce the encroachment of transportation costs on the district’s general fund ” an encroachment Rondeau estimated at about $800,000 annually.
Free: If your child qualifies now for the school district’s free lunch plan, you won’t have to pay for transportation outside of an annual fee of $20 for a bus pass.
$95: If your child qualifies for a reduced lunch, they’ll ride the bus for $95 annually.
$150: Is the full paying rate for a bus pass starting next year.
$50: Will be charged for your second and third children, while the fourth and any after that ride free.
$47,000: Minimum savings to the TTUSD by instating a parent pay bus pass.
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