By Kristin DeCarr
A number of school districts in at least five states are looking to increase their cash flow by asking parents to pay for their children to take the bus to school, a move that officials hope will offset some of the budget deficits they face. The service was previously paid for by taxpayers.
A recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that state funding for education has been dropping for the last 7 years. At least 30 states were found to have offered less per-student funding than was given before the recession. Of those states, 14 cut that funding by at least 10%, if not more. Across the nation, state funding accounts for around 45% of revenue for school districts, with local government contributions accounting for about the same.
“It’s a trend that started back in ‘08 when the recession hit,” said Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “School districts’ budgets were cut back severely. As an alternative to cutting a lot of programs, districts went the route of charging fees for sports events, uniforms, after-school activities—and eventually transportation.”
Many parents are angered by the decision to ask them to pay for bus transportation, and school officials report concerns over children’s safety and access to education.