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With Eye on Costs, Trustees Review Bus Options

With school districts across the state looking to cut costs wherever they can, the Huntington School Board spent a portion of its meeting last Monday night reviewing the district's bus transportation services and the current mileage limits in place that determine rider eligibility.

The Huntington School District has budgeted $8.975 million for transportation services. The district is in the second year of a two-year contract with Huntington Coach Corp. for bus services.

The agreement provided for an increase in contract prices of one-half of the increase in the Consumer Price Index in the first year of the deal and an increase in prices commensurate with the full rise in the CPI in the second year. The agreement is predicated on there being "no material changes" from 2010/11 service levels.

All K-3 students are presently eligible for transportation, regardless of their proximity to the school they are attending. Students in grades 4-6 are transported if they reside one-half mile or more from school. J. Taylor Finley Middle School and Huntington High School students are bused if they live at least a mile away.

Trustees were told that if those mileage limits were increased across the board by one-half mile the district would save an estimated $125,464. A three-quarter mile increase in the limit would save $445,494 while a one mile increase would net a savings of $1,066,450.

If the district went to the State Education Department limits of two miles for students in grades K-8 and three miles for those in high school, the district would reap a savings of $1,756,507.

A chart was prepared to indicate just how many students in each school would no longer be eligible for transportation should each of the increased mileage increments be established. A dramatic drop-off would occur if the district went to the SED limits. For example, only 160 out of the current 628 eligible students would continue to be offered busing at Woodhull Intermediate School. At the high school, eligibility for busing would go from 1,000 students to just 102.

Trustees discussed the mileage limits, but did not reach any decisions. Before the district could establish an increased limit it would need to gain voter approval through a ballot referendum.

The entire transportation presentation is available on the Huntington School District's website at www.hufsd.edu. It can be accessed by clicking on the link for Leadership and then Board of Education and finally on News & Events.

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