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May 21, 2014  |   Comments (2)   |   Post a comment

California district ends school bus pilot program

By Thomas McMahon

Etiwanda School District's pilot transportation program will be discontinued after the last day of school. Pictured is Etiwanda Colony Elementary, one of the schools involved in the program.

Etiwanda School District's pilot transportation program will be discontinued after the last day of school. Pictured is Etiwanda Colony Elementary, one of the schools involved in the program.

ETIWANDA, Calif. — A pilot transportation program that Etiwanda School District launched in March will be discontinued because it "did not generate the interest nor the revenue that was expected," district officials said.

Of the 1,008 students who were eligible for the pilot program, 254 participated (about 25%). To qualify, students had to live at least 3 miles from their elementary or middle school of residence.

In the program, described as a "shared cost model," parents paid $40 per month per student, with the district contributing the remaining cost. Some students qualified for free or reduced-cost transportation based on family income.

District officials had projected that the 40-day pilot program would bring in $43,000 in revenue, but the actual revenue was much lower: $12,640. Also, the daily cost of the program was $1,666 — which was 63% higher than the projected daily cost, $1,021.64.

District officials said that expenses were greater because of the addition of bus routes to ensure that students were dropped off and picked up from school in a timely manner.

"Due to the increased expenses and lower revenues, the monthly rates [that parents would pay] for any future transportation program would have to be much greater, which would result in even lower participation," Etiwanda Superintendent Shawn Judson said in a letter to parents. "Any future transportation program would also require changing start and end times at several schools, causing additional inconvenience for families of students not participating in the transportation program."

On May 1, the district's board of trustees approved a staff recommendation to discontinue the pilot program after the last day of school, which is this Thursday. As of the 2014-15 school year, only special-education transportation will be provided.

Outside of the pilot program, Etiwanda School District has been without regular-education school bus service since the 2010-11 school year, when it was discontinued due to budgetary issues.

On Dec. 4 of last year, 9-year-old Ashlyn Gardner and her 7-year-old brother Landon were crossing a street near their school when they were struck by a pickup truck. Ashlyn was killed. After the accident, local parents started two online petitions calling for the return of school bus service to increase safety for students and to relieve traffic congestion.

In January, the Etiwanda board decided to implement the pilot transportation program, which began on March 25.

"The board and district administration are disappointed that the pilot transportation program did not work for a larger number of our families," Judson, the district superintendent, said in his recent letter to parents. "The district will continue to look for alternatives and additional opportunities to reduce traffic congestion through morning and afternoon school programs that could expand the drop-off/pickup window for students."

Judson also noted that the district is working with a Safe Routes to School program "to provide additional opportunities to encourage walking and biking to and from school."

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Read more about: budget cuts, bus fees, California, parent disputes, school board, walking distance

Vote out all incumbents. Totally agree!!!

Samantha Liu    |    May 31, 2014 01:44 PM

I worked with the district on the Safe Routes to School program. Too many cars, too much chaos. 2 schools on a dead end road and a two lane road leading to the dead end road means DANGER. A responsible parent will not allow their child to be open game in the chaos. Then you factor in the extreme winds, heat and the wildlife factor (coyotes, mountain lions and snakes) and it's just not an adequate solution. US Fish and Wildlife needs to acts quickly and allow Wilson Avenue to be extended. An endangered Kangaroo Rat is holding up the clogged artery. Pray for the safety of our children. School resumes in August and we are back to square one without this program that was working to alleviate traffic. Voters need to remember what this school board disregarded come election day. Vote out all incumbents.

Tressy Capps    |    May 23, 2014 05:47 AM

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