LOCAL PERSPECTIVE: Area school districts cope with transportation cuts

“When I was a boy,” comedian Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man character might grouse, “we walked three miles to school, uphill, both ways. And that’s the way it was, and we liked it.”

Educators, parents and students may not like it, but everything old may be new again if state cuts in school transportation continue.

Public school districts this year are grappling with a $70 million cut in state aid for transportation approved last year by state lawmakers and Gov. Jay Nixon.

This year’s state budget forecast shows no improvement. The state faces a shortfall estimated by the governor’s administration at $500,000.

The dismal outlook prompted Brent Ghan, a spokesman for the Missouri School Boards’ Association, to advise members “to be prepared for some cuts — or even elimination — of state support for transportation.”

What does all this mean for district patrons?

In the Jefferson City School District, the seven-member Board of Education may vote as early as later this month to alter the start and end times at all schools.

The alterations were recommended by a transportation committee formed by Superintendent Brian Mitchell to make the transportation system more efficient.

The revised schedule includes: 7:50 a.m.-2:50 p.m., all elementary schools; 8:55 a.m.-3:55 p.m., both middle schools; 8:35 a.m.-3:35 p.m., Jefferson City High School, Simonsen 9th Grade Center and Jefferson City Academic Center.

Those times represent a revision of a previous concept that met with opposition from some district patrons. Some parents opposed an early elementary start time because of the inconvenience it would create.

Minimizing inconvenience for patrons while coping with transportation cuts is the problem now being pondered by public school boards and superintendents.

School transportation is no small expense.

Read the rest of this editorial piece in our newspaper or e-Edition for Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011.

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