USD 259 officials discuss cutting back on transportation funds

School Bus (KSN file photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – USD 259 officials went back to the drawing board Monday night to further discuss cuts for next year’s budget.

The meeting was focused on transportation efficiency and how the district could save anywhere from a couple hundred thousand dollars, to $1.7 million.

“In order for us to get to that magical number of buses to 423, which is really where our third tier is at, where reductions are at. We looked at this at a combination of ways to get to that number, we looked at moving K-8 to 7 o’clock start times,” stated Fabian Armendariz, USD 259 Director of Transportation.

The district transports almost 18,000 students daily. Wichita school officials discussed operating under a 3-tier system, which could ultimately alter the times of when classes would start for a handful of schools, as well as change the criteria of what routes now count as hazardous ones for students. The ultimate goal is to maximize efficiency.

“It looks like a combination of hazardous and bell time would get us to that,” stated USD 259 Board President, Betty Arnold.

In addition to the discussion of maximizing efficiency on school transportation, five parents spoke in Monday night’s meeting, and four of the five are concerned with the proposal of reducing the number of nurses.

Tracy Robles 7-year-old daughter has a medical condition that requires frequent monitoring. The concerned mother says her daughter’s school nurse has saved her life multiple times.

“It’s scary. If the nurse were at one school and got called to another, like if they ended up having to share nurses, and something happened to my daughter there would not be anybody there that is offered to give her the rescue medication,” Robles explained.

Valid concerns that more parents throughout USD 259 are echoing. However, Superintendent John Allison assured the public in Monday night’s meeting that no final decisions will be made on any of the proposals in the near future.

Superintendent Allison will be meeting with more than 100 high school students on Wednesday to ask for their opinions on some of the proposed budget cuts during his spring superintendent student dialogue session which will take place at the School Service Center, 3850 N. Hydraulic.

Click here to see one proposal to cut some hazardous bus routes.

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