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Pay for Busing? State Could Drop Funding Mandate

Illinois is considering changes to the way it funds mandated busing for local school districts. At a recent Lincoln-Way school board meeting, Supt. Lawrence Wyllie said transportation is something the district needs to look at.

Local school districts have been forced to consider transportation costs in the face of declining state aid, and if the state Board of Education has its way schools here could face even more issues. 

The Illinois State Board of Education is considering legislation that would eliminate a mandate for school districts to pay for some transportation costs. 

"If they do that and they cut off the funding entirely, we’re going to need to make a decision about whether we bus our kids or not," said Supt. Lawrence Wyllie, of the , at a recent school board meeting.

Currently, most districts are required to fund the busing costs for students who live more than 1.5 miles away from their school. The state reimburses school districts for some of the required transportation costs, but that percentage has dwindled.

In 2008, for example, the got about 75 cents to the dollar back; that dropped to 50 percent reimbursement last year for the $2.8 million the district spent on busing. 

According to the Rockford Register Star, two funding options are being considered

The first option: calculate reimbursement based on the state’s average per-pupil count, multiplied against the number of students transported in the district. The second option: calculate reimbursement based on the state’s average per-mile cost, multiplied against the total number of miles traveled within a district.

State funding for student transportation was slashed 42 percent in 2011, and the state has asked to keep the funding level flat, the Associated Press reported. 

Local Impact

If new funding proposals were enacted, it could mean that school districts could charge families for busing, even they live more than 1.5 miles away. Currently, districts may charge busing fees for students living within the 1.5 miles, which . 

As the state figures out its financial mess, Wyllie seems confident something will change in regard to transportation funding. And that has him ready to consider the current costs. 

In recent years, local school districts in Frankfort, Mokena and New Lenox have consolidated busing services with District 210 as a cost-cutting measure, but as state reimbursements continue to dip the schools have had to look at other options. 

One area Wyllie mentioned at last week's District 210 board meeting was funding out-of-state travel for teams and clubs. At most meetings, the board approves a few travel requests from coaches and advisers for various tournaments and events. 

Wyllie said it would be possible to require the team or club to pay its way to these events. That's that Wyllie said must at least been considered given the state's situation. 

"We would save a considerable amount of money," he said, but didn't immediately have a figure available for the amount spent on such trips. "All of those costs mount up. At some point we’re going to have to talk about this."

Regardless of what happens in Springfield, Wyllie said the team and club busing for outside events could come under the microscope. 

“If something is part of the regular schedule, we should pay for that—no question," he said. "But if, say, the cross country runners want to practice at the Indiana dunes, we’ve got to look at that type of stuff.” 

hazelgreen May 02, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Yet more cost that will be passed on to the community. How about some of the administrators take a paycut? Our fees are the highest around, and yet it seems like they never have enough money. Where is it all going?
Pat Patrick May 02, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Maybe they should cut Supt. Lawrence Wyllie's pay, perks and benefits. Also get rid of several of the Hitler like deans.
Rose C May 02, 2012 at 07:13 PM
I think we need to remember who is to blame here - the State. They have been mismanaging our tax dollars for years and keep pushing more and more things off to the local communities that are already struggling. Some districts are at least refusing to increase administrators' pay. It is a sad state of affairs - and who in the end gets hurt? The kids. And the 'little guy'. When the State cuts the funding (even more than it has) to transportation, we will see an increase in unemployment - for the bus drivers. Less routes = less drivers. That is one job that I could never do, and is many times underappreciated whether you have kids on the bus or are one of those drivers flying by the stopped bus with it's flashers on.
brian ksparks May 03, 2012 at 01:55 PM
maybe the bus drivers should walk springfeild and protest agiainstt the cutting on education wem need those buses because some students are not near by schools and some live 5 mins to school can walk to but if u are 50mile in school areas than keep the buses because if u cut thos how they going out towm sports meets
JMC May 04, 2012 at 06:36 PM
This is really sad. I do hope it all gets worked out. I know I certainly cannot afford to pay for busing to get my kids into New Lenox for school, and I can't afford sports busing either. I'm sure I cannot be the only single parent on a tight budget, who's kids would not be able to participate in sports or activities of the busing it cut for that. I understand the problems and lack of funding that all schools are facing right now, I just hope that more options are looked into before it falls upon the parents or community to have to pay for busing.

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