HONOLULU — The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) has identified 103 school bus routes across the state to be eliminated.
The move is among efforts to tackle a student transportation budget deficit of $17 million. It will affect 2,380 students on the islands of Oahu, Hawaii, Maui and Kauai.
The area hit hardest by the cuts is Central Oahu, with 999 riders affected. That area’s Mililani complex will lose about 28 bus routes.
However, the DOE said that shuttle service will be provided for Mililani High School and Mililani Middle School. Students can sign up for the shuttle service through the normal student bus transportation process.
A total of 51 schools — 20 of them elementary — across Hawaii are impacted by the cuts. The largest route cut affects 98 students, while the smallest affects one student.
The DOE initially faced a $17 million deficit in the student transportation budget. In June, the Board of Education voted to use about $11 million in federal impact aid and other funds to cut the deficit. Route consolidations and some other savings reportedly brought the deficit to $5.5 million, which led to the cutting of 103 school bus routes.
Some state lawmakers have spoken out about the cuts. Rep. Mark Takai sent a letter to Gov. Neil Abercrombie asking him to provide funds to bring back the bus routes.
“Children cannot learn without being in school and many students will not go to school without bus service,” Takai wrote. “As governor, I believe that you have the administrative tools to fix this problem. I urge you to invoke your emergency powers to fund this $5.5 million shortfall.”
A statement from Rep. Marilyn Lee said that bus cuts to her district of Mililani and Mililani Mauka “will drastically impact the ability of students in the area to get to school in a safe manner.”
The Board of Education is scheduled to discuss the student transportation situation during a meeting on Tuesday afternoon.