H-PASO ROBLES

Aug 16, 2011 9:28 PM by Danielle Lerner

Budget cuts forcing parents to pay for bus service in Paso Robles School District

It used to be one of those things you took for granted but this year, many parents in northern San Luis Obispo County will have to pay to put their child on the school bus. Budget cuts are forcing the Paso Robles School district to charge for busing.

It will now cost $180 for one child taking the bus to and from school all year. The second child is $120 and the third is $60. The fourth child and beyond ride for free.

In less than one week big yellow busses will be carrying kids to and from schools all across northern San Luis Obispo County, but parents are still adjusting to the idea of paying up so their kids can get on.

"Another bill, more expenses, I'm forking out a lot of money now with the busing and with the after-school care," said Michelle Hernandez, who has two children in the district.

"I still think it's ridiculous because most parents are going to have to pay if you're not low income," said Jamie Bailey, who has four children in the district.

Bailey qualifies for a low-income fee exemption but says the change will take a toll on parents who do not qualify.

"Even trying to find a job is awful, everything's hard on everybody right now," said Bailey.

Director of Facilities and Operations Ashley Lightfoot says the district had a tough choice to make, either charge for busing or eliminate routes to fill the $140,000 hole the state left in the district's transportation funding.

This at a time when teacher layoffs and decreased funding for school athletics serve as harsh reminders the recession is not over yet.

"Frankly it's devastating across the board, it's not only devastating the community but it's devastating to the school community," said Lightfoot.

Each child must have a buss pass to get on the bus. There will be a grace period for the first couple of weeks while people adjust to the new system, but after that students without a card will be turned away.

Any fee exemption passes must be processed in person at the Transportation Department office on Union Road. Otherwise you can register your kids online through the district web site, just click here.

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