District bus fees at issue

April 08, 2003 11:00 pm

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Parents in the Mark Twain Union Elementary School District might be asked to fork out some cash to put their children on school buses.

Tomorrow in Copperopolis, district board members will discuss levying fees for students who ride buses to or from the district's schools.

Board members will not vote on imposing fees at tomorrow's meeting.

However, bus fees could go into effect by this summer if the proposal is approved at a board meeting in the near future.

If a parent pays the entire year's fee by Aug. 19, it would cost $180 for each student to ride to and from school. Or, parents could make quarterly payments of $50 on Aug. 19, Oct. 16, Jan. 8 and March 19.

For students riding the bus one way for the entire year, parents could pay an annual fee of $90 per student or quarterly fees of $25.

Fees would only be levied on two students in each family. So, in a family with three students, one student could ride the buses for free.

Mark Twain students who don't regularly ride the bus would pay $1.50 for a one-way ride to or from school.

District Superintendent Rick Brewer said the bus fees would ease the district's ailing transportation budget.

The district's transportation expenses for the 2002-03 fiscal year are expected to run $249,000 and cover salaries, bus repairs, driver training and fuel.

Part of that budget counted on getting $144,000 from the state. Yet, even with that money, the district's transportation budget would run about $104,000 in the red, district officials said.

However, district officials recently learned they would only get about $48,000 from the state for transportation needs — meaning their transportation budget could run in the red by as much as $200,000.

Gov. Gray Davis cut transportation funding to school districts throughout the state this fiscal year. He has said the state would pay back the school districts — including what's left of the $144,000 to the Mark Twain district — sometime next year.