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Article updated: 7/26/2011 10:30 AM

U-46 bus cuts mean longer walks, fewer stops

Some high school students in Elgin Area School District U-46 will have to walk as much as a mile and a half to their school bus stops this upcoming school year, under cost-cutting measures being undertaken by the district. The move is expected to save up to $1.25 million.

Some high school students in Elgin Area School District U-46 will have to walk as much as a mile and a half to their school bus stops this upcoming school year, under cost-cutting measures being undertaken by the district. The move is expected to save up to $1.25 million.

 

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Changes to bus routes in Elgin Area U-46 mean some high school students will need to walk up to 1 miles to catch a bus to school.

Beginning in the fall, high school students eligible for transportation will be picked up at the nearest elementary or middle school, as long as the distance is less than a mile and half, school officials said in a news release.

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If no middle or elementary schools are located within the radius, district officials said a neighborhood stop will be determined.

The revised bus stops are the result of reductions in state funding for transportation. "The state of Illinois currently owes our district $5 million in transportation reimbursement from last school year, and the governor's recent reductions to the state's spending plan will reduce our funding by at least $2.5 million next year," said Jeff King, chief operations officer for U-46. "Cumulatively, through cuts in funding and late payments to school districts, we have lost $20 million in the past four years."

King said the new bus stops will allow the district to reduce the number of buses needed to transport high school students, as well as the number of stops.

It is estimated the district will save between $750,000 and $1.25 million in the first year on fuel and maintenance costs, as well as driver time.

In a phone message to high school students last week, King said while the changes do not fully address the reductions in transportation payments from the state, the new bus stops will allow the district to reduce costs without affecting the classroom. The 2011-2012 school year starts Wednesday, Aug. 24.

Elementary students currently walk to school unless they live more than a mile and half from school.

Parents of high school students eligible for transportation will be notified of their assigned bus stops in August.

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