Look what they're doing in Montgomery County
In recent weeks, as the Pinellas school system confronted its worst fiscal crisis in years, scores of residents and district employees wrote in with budget-cutting suggestions. Many said the solution was simple: Just stop transporting so many kids on buses.
Of course, the trouble with that is the Florida law requiring districts to provide bus rides to kids who live more than two miles from their schools. The law also requires districts to bus elementary school students who live within two miles but would have to navigate a hazardous road if they walked.
As the School Board sat down to address the budget, cutting bus rides was not even close to being on the table. Not so in Montgomery County schools just outside Washington, D.C., where the school board today is considering a measure that would give the superintendent emergency powers to curtail bus service if necessary this year.
That district's diesel costs have more than doubled in four years. The last time Montgomery County increased student walking distances (1996), nearly 2,000 students lost their rides. Read this Washington Post story for an interesting take on how other school systems are facing tough economic times.