Hoover’s fee-based school bus service delayed

HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Hoover will wait until the 2015-2016 school year to implement fee-based bus service for students who attend Hoover City schools, according to Jason Gaston.

He says the board envisions Hoover providing “world-class pupil transportation services using a cost-sharing model whereby state earmarked transportation funds are combined with local tax receipts and equitably administered ridership charges for choosing to ride.”

The decision comes after a Monday meeting between Hoover Superintendent Andy Craig and State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice.

Bice released the following statement to CBS42 Tuesday afternoon:

“I had a very comprehensive and informative meeting with Mr. Craig on Monday afternoon. During which he shared the multiple, thoroughly researched and analyzed cost saving strategies the system has, and continue to pursue.  It was clear that protection of the academic integrity of the system is paramount in those decisions, as he and the Board have been able to maintain level funding in this area, while seeing significant increases to their student population.   Student transportation is but one of many areas under study, as there remain legal questions to be answered but we are working through those collaboratively.  I was most encouraged that there is no immediate implications for transportation for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. It will be a year of study and planning, as key questions are answered.”

Dr. Tommy Bice

The bus fees were originally part of the board’s plan to save the school system $2 million a year.

The Hoover School Board of Education voted last summer to do away with bus service altogether, beginning this coming fall. That decision didn’t sit well with parents.

Most parents were more upset about the initial decision to cancel service than the idea of having to pay for their children to ride the bus.

After deliberation and consultation with the U.S. Department of Justice over the legality of a fee-based transportation system for students, the Hoover City Board of Education approved the proposal on April 17.

The United States Department of Justice analyzed the proposals for the fee-based transportation and revealed they would not oppose the structure outlined by Hoover City Schools.

The cost for one student rider per month will be $40.75 and $2.26 for non-poverty riders.  Students who qualify for the reduced prices through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) will pay $20.38 per month for one rider, or $1.13 per day.

Those who qualify for free lunch as a part of the program will pay $14.88 per month or $0.83 per day. The prices decrease for those paying for two student riders and three or more student riders.

It’s unclear at this time if those fees will remain the same with the delayed launch of the new system.

To view all of Gaston’s statement, click here.

CBS42’s Mike McClanahan will have more on CBS42 News at 5 and 6.

Copyright 2014 WIAT-TV CBS42

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