Proposal in Illinois includes fee for school bus rides

(KFVS) - How much would you pay to make sure your child got to school? One proposal in the state of Illinois would include a fee for students who ride the bus to school.

It's the latest target in a budget crunch that could affect a lot of families.

As Illinois lawmakers continue to cut funding, education officials look for ways to stretch the money.

A spokesperson says the plan is meant to replace some 40 percent of cuts to mandatory bus expenses in districts.  The spokesperson says the new formula is more efficient.  Districts would be reimbursed, according to a state average cost of getting children to and from school.  Right now it's a fixed rate.

The part of the proposal generating a lot of talk would allow Illinois schools to start charging students for a bus ride.

Local superintendents say they are being set up to fail. They feel it's unfair to put another burden on parents. Ultimately, they believe it's the state's latest tactic to push them into consolidation.

Local educators feel they would lose more money in the long run. They also worry about attendance issues

Most superintendents Heartland News spoke with say they feel the plan will never work and never help them recoup funds because so many students are low income so under federal law they could now be charged.  Superintendents says it's not fair to put extra costs on any family.

Joe Nagel, a father of three, says he'd consider home schooling his kids because it's a matter of principle.

"I think there's a better way to get money for the school system," Nagel said. "I know the state's in trouble but they gotta get themselves out of it. "It's ridiculous. The school bus, the way it is, they've already stopped running school buses the full routes. You have to take your kids to a drop off point."

"I would think that would be awful," said Julie Sharp, a parent. "Going to school should be free."

"I think it's wrong. I think taxpayers pay enough they oughta at least get the bus free," said Jim Carter, a parent.

Some parents said they would not mind the extra cost.

A spokesperson for the state of Illinois says it is still too early to tell how much each district could charge.

Superintendents also feel if they charge a fee for buses, the state will cut out other reimbursement funds.

The proposal is in committee and it could be up for a hearing anytime.

Kentucky and Missouri lawmakers have discussed legislation that would allow advertising on the sides of school buses.

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