The Seattle Times is reporting that Governor Gregoire is considering cutting K-12 bus transportation.
But any squeamishness over student-transportation cuts isn't enough to keep that $220 million idea off her list of ways to potentially deal with budget shortfalls, the latest a $2 billion one.
Washington would be the first to completely eliminate state dollars for bus service because of the recent recession, said Bob Riley, executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. He noted that a few other states, including California and Colorado, have cut school-transportation dollars in previous years.
Debra Carnes, who was waiting for the bus with her fourth-grader, called the idea horrible — but better than cutting money going to the classroom. She wondered what impact it would have on the attendance of low-income students and those new to the U.S.
"Our family, we'll figure it out. But there's a lot out there who would struggle," she said.
Of course, transportation for disabled students would continue per federal law. Washington state pays about 67% of the cost of bus transportation with districts kicking in the rest. However,
The dollars are not evenly distributed across Washington, however, with some districts depending 100 percent on the state for transportation dollars and others filling in with local levy dollars.
Seattle Public Schools, the state's largest school district, stands to lose the most from the governor's school-bus idea. The state now pays only half of the cost to transport Seattle kids, but that adds up to about $15.7 million a year, said Tom Bishop, transportation manager for the district.
Other issues? More pollution and traffic from all those parents trying to get their kids to school.