The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District has doubled the price of bus fees for parents who pay for half-year passes only.
Alisha Dozier is a parent of three kids in the district and says the increase has definitely impacted her family.
"It affects our family because we didn't expect to make a payment and it's coming right after Christmas and I know that there's a lot of parents that aren't going to be able to pay this and unfortunately, it's affecting the children," Dozier said.
Parents that used to pay $95 for one child riding the bus morning and afternoon will now have to pay $190.
According to the district, the increase is due to a lack of qualified bus drivers and increasing the rates will help guide which routes can be reduced or eliminated in the future.
Nicole Morgan also has two kids in the district and says she will do what she can to pay the new price.
"We're going to try and make it work. I'm hoping I can stretch it out until tax return time," Morgan said.
Other districts like Santa Maria offer students bus transportation at no cost while the San Luis Coastal district charges parents $90 for a half-year and $180 for a full year. San Luis Coastal says they offer parents discounts after the fourth child.
Transportation bus passes that were purchased for the half-year fall semester will no longer be valid after Jan. 16.
The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District issued the following statement:
At this time, the District has increased the cost of the Spring pass for the 2019/20 school year. The district continues to offer reduced rates for multiple children in a family. Additionally, a reduced rate is available for families that qualify under the guidelines of the State Gross Income Eligibility Schedule. Unfortunately, the district does not offer other reductions or monthly payment plans.
Due to the lack of qualified bus drivers, we are not able to maintain the current number routes. We are exploring options for changes to the 2020/21 school year. In doing so, the increased rate this year may cause some attrition to ridership and help guide which routes can be reduced or eliminated in the future.
The bus driver shortage is a nationwide problem and PRJUSD is being impacted by this. We have advertised in multiple media outlets and offer free training but we cannot recruit the needed staff. Because of this, our current staff is extremely burdened, making our existing routes unsustainable.