Hillsborough bus system might offer less "courtesy"
Details are beginning to emerge about the Hillsborough County School District's efforts to cut transportation costs.
One idea that will be floated at Tuesday's 9 a.m. workshop concerns a reduction in courtesy rides during the next school year.
Nothing has been suggested during the current year.
But, prior to winter break, some students in middle school and high would be notified that, if they live within two miles of a school, they will not get transportation during the 2017-18 school year.
For elementary students, there's a different timetable. By the end of this school year, they would be notified that their courtesy service would not be provided beginning in August of 2018.
In both cases, there is a process to apply for the service, based on safety conditions.
The reason for all of this? Money.
If a student lives within two miles of a school, the state pays some of the cost (49 cents on the dollar) from transportation funds if it is determined that the route is too dangerous to walk. In the case of middle and high schools, there is no 49 cents on the dollar. All of the money comes from the general fund, which leaves less money for the classroom.
Estimates vary as to how much money the district is spending on courtesy busing. A report from the Gibson Consulting Group said the costs run close to $10 million a year. But this PowerPoint presentation for tomorrow's meeting says the district pays $3.5 million for high school and middle school students, and $1.7 million for elementary school.
All of this is part of the district's broad effort to rein in spending and keep the fund balance stable at $146 million, creating a comfortable reserve in case schools were to close temporarily for an emergency, such as a hurricane.
Staff at the 9 a.m. workshop will also discuss ongoing plans to replace the district's oldest buses, some with propane-fueled vehicles.