May 21, 2003 at 10:29 PM CDT - Updated June 20 at 5:15 PM
Paducah Bus Cut Proposal By: Susan Stiegman
(Paducah, KY)--Many Heartland schools are facing dilemmas as they try to conform to tighter state budgets. Districts are scaling back programs that many people don't want to give up. For instance, the Paducah Public School District is thinking about scaling back its bus service.
While many parents worry about how their kids will get to and from school, Paducah School Superintendent Vance Ramage says the cuts are necessary to save money. "The proposal being considered would cut three or four routes. At a cost of $15,000 to $20,000 to run each route per year, it could save the district up to $70,000.
Many parents call it a school service they expect, but buses often roll up with just a handful of kids on board -- a costly luxury as far as Dr. Ramage is concerned. "The board here in the last few years has developed an almost cab-like service. Kids are picked up at their door and delivered to the school regardless of where they live," he says.
The plan the district is considering sets up "neighborhood" bus stops rather than the "door-to-door" service that Dr. Ramage is referring to. But more notably, it focuses on the schools' parameters.
"Our proposal would likely be a one-half mile limit for the elementary schools. Take the elementary schools and draw a circle around them. Kids within that circle wouldn't be transported. Kids outside it would be. At the high school and middle school, we're looking at a one-mile radius."
The state of Kentucky reimburses the school district for transporting all students outside of the a one-mile radius of the schools. The school, and ultimately, the taxpayers pick up the tab for providing bus service to students within that radius. But many parents say it's worth it.
"I'm a single mom with two kids," says Felicia Rouse. I don't know what I would do if I had to pick my kids up after school. It would be a terrible inconvenience at work."
As of now, the school board is just considering this proposal. If and when it goes on the board's agenda, the public will be notified, and parents will have a chance to voice their concerns.
There will be at least two board meetings this summer during which they can do that.