By SCOTT PESZNECKER
School bus rides aren't free anymore in the Mark Twain Union School District.
But parents won't have to pay as much as was originally proposed.
The district board voted 4-1 yesterday to levy bus fees for students who ride to or from the district's schools. However, rather than charge up to two students in each family $180 for year-long, round-trip bus passes, board members decided to charge each family $110 for a year of round-trips.
Students riding the bus just one way for the entire year will be charged $55.
Fees can be paid up front or in four payments, but there will be a small savings when paying the whole fee at once.
The necessity and amount of the fee will be reviewed on an annual basis, board members said.
The board's decision to reduce the charge was a relief to audience member Patti Spence, a single mother who drives her child to school in Angels Camp but relies on the bus in the afternoon.
"If they had passed it at $180, I could not have done it," Spence said.
Most board members agreed that the proposed fee was too much for many parents.
The proposed annual base fee of $180 per student would have generated an estimated $30,000 for the district's slumping transportation budget, District Superintendent Rick Brewer said.
How much money the revised fee will bring in isn't yet known.
"It will be less, but it will be less of an impact on those families," board member Gary McGeorge said.
Board member Diane Bateman voted against the revised fee because she wanted a per-student fee, as was originally proposed. She said she was concerned that a family with one student would pay the same fee as a family with five students.
"We're penalizing people who only have one child," she said.
Other board members said the number of students in a family is irrelevant because the transportation budget is based on the number of buses and length of bus routes, not the number of students riding each bus.
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