Transit cost-share discussed with school district

Jefferson City officials are discussing a possible cost-share agreement with the school district to continue after-school tripper routes on the city’s transit system.

No cuts to the tripper routes have been announced or confirmed, but the routes faced elimination during the budget discussions last summer.

Tripper routes run once a day throughout the school year and serve Jefferson City High School, St. Peter’s Interparish School, Helias High School, Immaculate Conception School and the Simonsen 9th Grade Center.

During those discussions in August, David Luther, director of school and community relations for Jefferson City Public School, had said the school district was prepared to help the city with a cost-share to keep the tripper routes that serve students in the afternoon. At the time, the city indicated a willingness to continue meeting with district representatives to come up with a solution.

But in September, the City Council voted to restore the funds needed to the transit system to continue running the tripper routes, and any further discussion of a cost-share arrangement with the schools was dropped.

Mayor Eric Struemph said he believed the school district likely makes a contribution to the tripper routes, but he was unsure. He said the district likely would be willing to help if they weren’t already.

Transit division director Richard Turner said there is no arrangement with the school district for a cost-share on the tripper routes.

City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus said he has had ongoing discussions with the school district since the budget discussions last summer.

“It didn’t make sense to do that during the current school year, which is where we were at that point in time,” Nickolaus said. “I think they are willing to share some portion of those costs.”

Nickolaus said the city also would need to have discussions with the private schools served by the tripper routes, as the public schools have indicated it only would be fair if all schools took up some of the cost.

“That’s still certainly a possibility,” Nickolaus said. “Any dollar you get in is a dollar you don’t have to cut.”

Heidi Lucas, chairwoman of the Citizens for JeffTran group which is fighting against any cuts to the transit system, said she has been told the tripper routes will be cut before the next school year.

“They haven’t announced that, and I think the reason is it’ll bring people to the table,” Lucas said.

Turner said there have been discussions about cutting the tripper routes, but no decisions have been made.

Nickolaus said there are no current plans to cut the tripper routes, though anything is possible.

“That could be a possible alternative cut,” Nickolaus said. “I think anything beyond what we’ve put forward is just rumors. Anything is a possibility, we have to be open to all the different options, including not making any cuts at all.”

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