Paying To Ride The School Bus - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Paying To Ride The School Bus

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It is a controversial plan, asking parents to pay so their kids can ride a school bus.

The Illinois State Board of Education is considering it, giving districts the option to stop bussing students or start charging fees to do so.

Area schools have been hit hard by in recent months, but so have parents, who say they cannot afford any more fees.

The state mandate would end free bussing for students who live more than a mile and a half from school, or students who face certain hazards that prevent walking. That means parents will have to figure out a different way to get their kids to school. Which they say won't be easy.

"I'm at work before school even starts, so I physically can't take my child to school, and financially with fees and everything else, a big chunk to start school so that would add to the school fees," said Monmouth resident, Traci Daniel.

Parents who can't drive their kids to school each day don't have many options.

"Well I think it does handicap some people, some children at some point, maybe they feel the burden, I see kids who have to ride the city bus to school and I think that would be left to other areas of responsibility. I think kids should have the opportunity to ride a school bus," said Coal Valley resident John Franklin.

But if school districts want to continue providing bus transportation to and from school this new mandate would allow them to charge a fee.

It's obvious many need that money, because they aren't getting it from the state. That would be added on top of school registration fees and other fee's parents already pay.

"I believe to register high school and grade school kid, I spent well over 200 dollars in fees. So yeah it's not free and cheap, by any means," said Daniel.

"I'm like every body else, I have bills to pay, and it would just be one more bill," said Franklin.

Parents say they're fed up. Area districts have cut programs and teachers, and busses could be next on the list.

"It seems like every time we turn around, something with schools is being more of a burden, we've been in 2 different school districts, been through 2 different consolidations, it always seems to be a hardship on families and parents," said Daniel.

Former State Representative Mike Boland agrees with those parents.

He tells us free bussing to school is an American tradition and to break it, would hurt students now and all of us down the road.

"We can't go backwards, in my eyes, if we do that is really being penny wise and pound foolish, and we will pay for it later on. not only in individuals maybe missing an educational opportunity, but for our great nation to stay great, we have to have a strong economy," said Former IL State Rep Mike Boland.

Boland says he's also concerned if kids don't have a good way to get to school more of them will drop out. This is not a done deal yet and at this time it's unclear how area districts would implement the new mandate or any fees.