In previous years, schools throughout Edmonds School District 15 (ESD), have provided an after-school activities/athletics bus. It was transportation for people with extra-curricular involvement and went through a broad range of stops to comply with everyone’s needs. Due to this year’s budget cuts, however, no school in district has the bus.
The idea to discontinue the activities bus emerged as a proposal in the April 8, 2008 budget committee meeting and was put into effect on Aug. 27, 2008. The idea was proposed by the ex-head of transportation, Reg Clark. The meeting was focused on how to minimize expenditures or increase revenue for the 2008-2009 school year. One suggestion was to charge students to ride the bus but that idea was voted down.
The district also felt that the purpose of the bus was being abused. They felt students were only using the bus as a way home so they could hang out with their friends longer after school.
During the 2007-2008 school year the ESD 15’s annual expenditure cost was $40,177,336. Unfortunately the district only made $10,405,822 revenue to cover the cost. Drastic changes had to be quickly made. The biggest cuts were in special education and transportation. Last year the cost of transportation for the district was $8,023,567. By just cutting the after school bus they saved $450,200. The majority of the cost is from the mandatory transportation of homeless students. By law homeless children must be provided access to education. Their transportation accounts for about $2,500,000 of the cost.
Students and parents throughout the school were struck from behind with the decision. By law, teachers have to be notified of any changes in the upcoming school year by May 18 of the previous school year. The only notification that the students at our school got was an announcement the second day of school after many students had been stranded after school the previous day.
“[It is] kind of lame,” said senior Samantha Westerlund. “Students should be offered a way home if they stay after school.” Junior Jason McMasters said, “It really sucks. The fact that I have to walk home two miles with heavy books and my guitar makes me angry, displeased, and haggard.”
Social studies teacher Dory Pearce also had a strong opinion as well stating, “I know there are budget issues in the school district. I think it is too bad. Students used the after school to for extra-curricular activities, to get help from teachers. It’s a shame.” Art teacher Mark Walker suggested that students look elsewhere for transportation. “Maybe you should contact your local church, they have buses. Maybe local companies would fund things like activities.”
There is little the district can do to get the bus back. One option is that individual schools could buy the bus and pay for it with their own funding. However with budget cuts district wide schools will have little change to spare especially $450,200. The other option is to write to the budget committee to ask them to re-evaluate their decision. Until then, students with extra-curricular activities will have to ride the community transit, drive themselves, ride with friends, or find some other mode of transportation to get home from school.