HomeNewsCalifornia District Utilizes YouTube to Broadcast 2012-2013 School Bus Cuts, Call to...

California District Utilizes YouTube to Broadcast 2012-2013 School Bus Cuts, Call to Action

The Lake Elsinore Unified School District in Southern California posted a two-minute video on YouTube calling for residents to join transportation and other school staff on a march this morning to call attention to the cutting of home-to-school transportation next school year.

The video was posted on March 21. Today’s march through local streets was scheduled to begin at 6:30 Pacific and was to follow one of the routes students would be forced to walk next school year. A district spokesman said local media came out to cover the march.

“It’s a David-and-Goliath battle,” the spokesman told School Transportation News, adding that the district hopes the march will rally public support.

The school board voted on Feb. 9 to eliminate regular route service in response to the district’s $15 million budget deficit. The total cost of Lake Elsinore’s transportation is $5.8 million, of which the state normally reimburses $2.1 million. But another round of statewide transportation cuts are scheduled to take effect next school year, and Lake Elsinore says it does not have sufficient revenue to offset those cuts.

A video narrator identified as “Andy” stated that 4,000 students will now have to find another way to school, which could mean another 4,000 vehicles on the road during morning and afternoon commutes.

“It’s not about the money. It’s about the safety of the students of Lake Elsinore,” he added. “It’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

An unidentified school bus driver noted that her 9.2-mile route often begins early in the morning before sunrise. She said registered sex offenders live along the route, and some streets have no sidewalks or street lights.

“How are these kids going to get to school?” she asked, becoming visibly emotional. “There’s so many different elements these kids are going to have to deal with when there are no school buses.”

The cost of transportation is a “minor percentage” of the district’s more than $160 million school budget, said the video’s narrator. Gov. Jerry Brown will issue a revised budget in May, which will shed more light on the projected student transportation cuts based on the state’s updated revenue and expenditure figures. Additionally, a voter referendum on increasing taxes for public education and student transportation, is expected in November.

Lake Elsinore said it is also planning to adjust some school attendance boundaries to maximize attendance from surrounding neighborhoods, with the goal of reducing travel distances from home to school.

Meanwhile, special education students with transportation services listed in their IEPs will continue to ride the school bus after the school board earmarked $2.5 million specifically for that student segment.

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