The Lake County School Board voted Monday night to let parents pay $2 a day, so their children can take the bus if they live within two miles of their school. The question now, is how many families will pay to have kids hop on the bus?
The school board is offering families a new option to get their children to and from school. They can pay $330 a year, and their child can ride the bus in some cases. More than 4,000 families living within two miles of their schools lost courtesy busing this year. The school board cut it to help balance the budget and then brought back buses for a few hundred students who walk on the most dangerous roads.
Kristen Higley attended Monday night's meeting. She has two students in Lake County schools and she still has doubts about the new bus ride option.
She says, "My first question for the school board is, 'How long are these provisions going to be in place?' Are we looking at next year, you're going to revoke this policy?"
Chris Patton is a spokesman for Lake County Schools. He says it's hard to predict how many families will use the new plan, which is based on a similar one in Brevard County. Patton says students will have to use existing bus stops, and there has to be empty seats on their bus for them to catch a ride.
Patton says, "It has to be an existing bus route because we are not going to be adding expenditures to the existing transportation department. Remember, that's why we cut courtesy busing in the first place."
That dynamic could leave some students who live one half mile from their school walking more than a mile to the closest bus stop.
Higley does not like that. "Well, if the child is not secure enough to walk the half mile to the school, what makes it more secure for them to walk the mile and a quarter to the new bus stop?"
The $2-per-day bus plan goes into effect in early November after the school district puts a system in place for parents to prepay for the rides.
Some parents at Monday night's meeting are still concerned that children are walking to schools on dangerous roads in Lake County. They want to talk to city and county governments and state lawmakers to see what can be done to address their concerns.