A press release from School District 300:
Proposed cut to transportation funding concerning to D300 community
The State of Illinois provides “categories” of education funding to school districts, such as
- special education
- bilingual education.
The state mandates that the district provide these categorical services but doesn’t adequately or reliably fund them.
The state has already cut D300’s transportation funding by 24% over the past three years.
This total cut of over $3.5 million has occurred as our student enrollment continues to increase and the cost of gas keeps rising.
But the pain could get a lot worse in the near future.
Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed budget that is currently being debated by state legislators would reduce the D300 regular education transportation funding from $1.8 million to a projected $60,000 in the 2013-2014 school year.
With the state budget scheduled to be finalized within the next couple of months, it is important that D300 families and staff members understand the potential implications now.
Some of those advocating for this cut suggest that school districts could start charging parents for transportation services.
Taking a closer look at this and other so-called solutions, our district’s concerns include:
REDUCE BUS SERVICES
• Recent history – Over the past three years, D300 has already consolidated bus routes and reduced bus services to maximize efficiency without sacrificing safety. To further reduce our bus services at this point would extend this difficult transition for our families.
• Logistics – If we reduce bus service, many of our families – especially parents of younger children – would start driving their children to school. There would be huge logistical issues in handling the many additional parents dropping off students in cars.
• Environment – Quality of life would decrease with thenoise and traffic created by more parents driving students to school.
• Safety – Buses have proven to be a much safer way than cars to get large numbers of students to school. Also, if young children have to walk a farther distance (beyond the current 1.5-mile state cap), there could be an increased chance of harm.
• Attendance – The achievement gap would widen, as attendance may drop among students without reliable transportation.
• School day – More time would be needed to coordinate student drop-offs and pick-ups.
CHARGE FAMILIES FOR TRANSPORTATION
• Students qualifying for free/reduced meals – Would the district waive their bus fee? If so, how would that gap be funded?
• Cost shift – Charging fees would be yet another expense for our middle-income families.
• Achievement – The achievement gap would again be an issue, as financially strapped families who don’t qualify for fee waivers may not be able to reliably get their children to school for consistent teaching and learning.
MAINTAIN CURRENT BUS SERVICES AT NO CHARGE, and CUT THE D300 BUDGET TO COMPENSATE FOR $1.8 MILLION ANNUAL LOSS
In recent years we have cut millions from our budget. Further cuts would be extremely difficult, as we have committed to long-range employee contracts with specific class size rules as the bulk of our district expenses.