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The issue concerning bus fees has been rising steadily in the past few years nationwide. In many schools of such states as New York or California parents have paid school transportation fees, but at the same time in some states like Indiana or Massachusetts there were no school bus fees. Parents have been working very hard to pay school fees for their children and the free transport has been a great incentive not only for the parents, but also for the students.
Of course, when school bus fees had been introduced in such schools the majority of parents opposed it. However, not many parents have expressed their point of view. It was just accepted that students would pay for their transportation.
Only a few attempts to raise the question were undertaken, though the issue needs thorough discussion. For instance, Leister schools did not require funding for school bus services from parents several years ago. Basically, it is possible to keep it that way even in the period of economical constraints which both schools and parents are experiencing.
The bus fees hike have been introduced recently. In Fontana, parents started paying the introductory bus fees hike in 2005 (FUSD). The fee is $120 per child per school year which is quite expensive, especially if a family has several school-aged children (FUSD). Nowadays, every state and every county faces many financial difficulties. For instance, the state of Indiana had to resort to a $300 million “cut in state education spending” (Wilson).
Of course, Leicester has also certain financial constraints which made school boards to introduce bus fees. Admittedly, school boards try to make it affordable for as many families as possible. For instance, according to FUSD there are certain groups of student eligible to free transportation or reduced bus costs: those “qualifying for free or reduced lunch” (FUSD).
However, there are many students ineligible to free transportation which does not mean that it will be affordable for their families, so they will have to find other ways: parents will have to take them to school, or students will need to walk, they will have to use public transport. Of course, this will cause additional inconveniences for families. They will spend more time solving the problem of getting to the school rather than concentrating on their classes.
Parents will need to take their children to school much earlier so that they could get to their work on time. Some will even need to reshape their schedule. Besides, not all families, especially in inner-city neighborhoods, have cars. Thus, there is not much of a choice for many families and students will need to walk to their schools. Students going to school on foot will need to join groups because, unfortunately, there are many quite dangerous neighborhoods.
It is very good if there are several (at least two) siblings in a family, but some families have only one child who will have to join other children to go to school and go back home. Apart from financial problems and safety concerns there can one more issue which rises from the bus fees introduction, which are psychological issues. Thus, students who cannot afford transportation will feel uncomfortable and can face mockery from the part of other students of their school.
For example, the schools offer two programs of transport, the bus system and the kids-walk-to-school, which insinuates some form of discrimination. To be part of these programs means having the money or not and lack of money is not a choice. It is simply irrational to justify walking to school due to lack of bus fees as a way of improving health to both the students and the environment.
Moreover, free school buses service is, in fact, the best alternative for cities (and school boards) and the entire country to save money and improve environment. As far as saving money is concerned, according to American School Bus Council “total U.S. savings in fuel cost per year by students riding school busses” are more than 6 billion dollars. As for the environmental issues the amount of emissions will increase since parents will have to drive their cars to take their children to school.
Thus, the introduction of eco-friendly technologies (hybrid buses) in school bus services will not work. It will become a waste of money for the city budget. For instance, Clean School Bus USA encourages schools to join the movement to improve environmental situation in cities. They suggest “retrofitting” (upgrading buses) and replacing the oldest buses (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
They also suggest a very interesting program which, to my mind, can help school boards to save money and join environmental protection movement (spending no dollar on it). This program presupposes elimination of “unnecessary public school bus idling” (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
Thus, Clean School Bus USA calculated that it is possible to save $120 a year on each school bus after 20 minutes idling reduction (provided, fuel gallon costs $4.00). It is only necessary to think over routes more thoroughly and make the drivers acquainted with some driving secrets available on the official website of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Thus, it is clear that the bus fees will cause many inconveniences, money waste and even more serious problems like safety issues. Basically, the schools should not shift their responsibility of ensuring satisfaction of students’ needs to the parents. When schools introduced the bus system, they seemed to be delegating their responsibilities of ensuring the safety and transport of the students to the individual parents.
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On the other hand, it is difficult all across America and we all must tighten our belts and make sacrifices. However, these sacrifices should be thoughtful. Education should not become a tool of overcoming financial constraints by school boards since education is the basis of the nation’s wellbeing. Schools, as well as household budgets, are significantly constrained – making most parents unable to shoulder the responsibility of paying for their children’s school transportation.
The school boards should look for other means to solve the problem of their budgets cut. In the first place, it is necessary to rethink routes and the use of school buses (to reduce idling, remove unimportant drives and routes, etc.). It is also possible to raise funds for school bus service.
For example, charity can be a good source of funding this service. Besides, parents should express their position against the introduction of school bus fees. Thus, parents can and should influence the situation; they only should be more organized and address respective school boards. It is necessary to start the discussion and finally find an appropriate solution of the issue.
Arsenault, Charlene. “Paying to Ride the School Bus – Do You Care about the Fee? Oh, and Your Town’s Politics?” The Daily Leicester. 2010. Web.
Clean School Bus USA. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2008. Web.
“FUSD – Transportation Services.” Fontana Unified School District. Web.
“National School Bus Fuel Data.” American School Bus Council. Web.
Wilson, Charles. “Indiana AG Says Schools Can’t Charge Bus Riders.” Wish TV. 2010. Web.