Free Rides for Students Equals Thousands for the District
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Public School district has been letting families off easy, but starting as early as next school year, that may no longer be the case. Students who live within a certain radius of the school they attend will have to pay to ride the bus.
Currently the bus policy states if a student is in kindergarten through seventh grade and lives a mile or more away from school, they may ride the bus for free. For eighth through twelfth graders it's two miles or more. The Columbia Public School has had this bus policy set up for a while but has not been enforcing it. The school district attempted to enforce the policy this year, but stopped after many parents complained.
Last October, CPS officials discovered 604 students were riding the buses that were not supposed to according to the policy. Out of those 604 students, only 16 families were paying the fee to ride the buses. The bus fee is $148.10 per semester for the 2011-2012 school year. Therefore, the school district is missing out on collecting around $174,000.
CPS officials met earlier this week to discuss when to start enforcing this policy. The officials said the policy would probably be enforced either next school year or at the beginning of the 2013 school year when Battle High School opens. CPS officials said they were leaning towards enforcing the policy starting in the 2013 school year because the bus routes were going to change regardless.