By SCOTT PESZNECKER
Depending on tomorrow's vote, parents in the Mark Twain Union Elementary School District might have to pay for their children to ride school buses.
The district board will decide whether to levy fees for students who ride buses to or from the district's schools. If approved, bus fees could go into effect before the summer-school session.
The proposed fees were discussed at a school board meeting last month in Copperopolis.
District Superintendent Rick Brewer said there was a "mixture" of support and opposition to the bus fees, but not enough opposition to change the plans.
As proposed, if a parent pays the entire year's fee by Aug. 19, it would be $180 for each student to ride the bus round trip. Parents could also make quarterly payments of $50 on Aug. 19, Oct. 16, Jan. 8 and March 19.
For students riding the bus one way, parents would pay an annual fee of $90 per student or quarterly fees of $25.
Fees would only be levied on two students in each family. In a family with three students, one would ride for free.
Students who usually get rides to and from school could pay $1.50 to ride the bus once, one way.
Fees would be prorated for students who start school in the district after the beginning of the academic year. Refunds would only be given to families who transfer out of the school district.
Students could lose bus privileges if fees haven't been paid after 15 school days.
"It's still going forward as that proposal," Brewer said.
Brewer has said the bus fees would ease the district's ailing transportation budget.
The district spends $249,000 each year on transportation everything from salaries to bus repairs to driver training and fuel.
For the 2002-03 fiscal year, the district was counting on getting $144,000 from the state to help pay for transportation costs, and was going to kick in $104,000 from the general fund.
However, district officials were recently told they will only get about $48,000 from the state this fiscal year meaning the district will have to spend about $200,000 on transportation.