Today I went down to pay for my children’s bus fees at their district’s transportation office. I will not name the district but only to say that this district is in this county and has already shut down one of their schools. My wife and I need the bus to transport our children in the afternoons because of work and logistics. In the morning we are able to provide our own transportation to their schools.
For the past six years we have done this where we paid for the bus only in the afternoon because we did not need the morning run. The district offered in the past annual, semi-annual, one way and even daily passes. Furthermore, if a family had more than one child they were offered a multi-child discount. Today, however, I was shockingly surprised that not only could we not pay for just one way but there was no longer multi-child discounts. Look, I don’t mind paying my fair share but when I’m paying for a service (in this case one-way transportation but having to pay the full fare of two-way transportation, not to mention having two children, which in the past would have granted us a discount), and I find out through the superintendent that over 50 percent of the bus riders’ families don’t pay a dime, that is disturbing. During the conversation I was told that this is a fair way to charge their riders based on the fact that the bus was already running routes morning or afternoon and that basically it did not matter if the child was on either, but would still have to pay as if they were. How is this fair when you’re paying for a service but having to pay twice what it would normally cost?
It would be like the Mountain Democrat saying we are going to increase our rates and we are going to eliminate our Monday and Wednesday editions but you still have to pay for those as if they were there. The superintendent told me that the district was facing extreme budget shortfalls and that the school board had decided that this new structure was the best and fair for all. How is it fair when folks like ourselves have to continually pay more for less and see others reap the benefits of our hard work? After a lengthy discussion with the super, he told me honestly that your “children’s rates are going up to help pay for those who don’t.” He was sincere and I appreciated his honesty but things have to change.
In my opinion everyone has to have an equal share and stake in the district and if that means that you can only afford to pay $10, $20 or $30 a year for your child’s transportation or school lunches, so be it because it is better than a big fat zero. If the state is giving the school X amount of dollars for busing and every year the school has to pull dollars out of the general fund to make up for the loss, then the answer seems pretty clear. Cut the program. We can’t keep upping the cost of those who pay. I’m not a cruel-hearted person and completely understand that these are hard times, but why must we keep shouldering the costs? Unless the district’s policies change, two things will come about from our household. First, we will not pay for the bus, which means even further losses and second in November, we will not be voting for any kind of tax increase. As the old saying goes, “you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip” and I’m getting pretty close to being a turnip.