Columbia students would be taking city buses instead of school buses

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools hopes to save money by putting students on city buses. 

"There is dwindling funding at the state level in regards of transportation. We spend about $12 million a year on transportation to get students to and from school," said Michelle Baumstark, Columbia Public Schools community relations director. 

Baumstark said the cost to transport students via school buses increases every year because CPS is a growing district. CPS is the fifth largest school district in Missouri.

"However, we only receive about $2 million from our state funding to support that transportation," Baumstark said. 

Jennifer Roberts said there are several issues to consider if Columbia City Council decides to get rid of school buses for city buses. 

"Neighborhoods where I live, we no longer have a bus stop. We use to have a bus stop here, but we don't anymore," Roberts said. "They would have to look at things like that because the change areas may not all have a bus stop near them."

Roberts founded Start2Finish, a parent group designed to raise awareness about redistricting students and advocates policies that allow high school students to finish at the school where they started. 

"We feel it's not fair to deny kids the opportunity to finish in the high school where they started simply because the school district is not willing to provide a bus," Roberts said.

Roberts said she agrees with boosting ridership on city buses for overall city funding, but as a parent, safety is still a concern.

"City buses are safe, but our young children probably need a parent on a city bus. I wouldn't send my young child on a bus by herself, but I would send my teenager," said Roberts. 

Major cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles currently use city buses to transport students to school. 

Roberts said possibly adding a student or kids section would make her more comfortable with her younger students riding the city bus. 

Columbia City Council has not yet made the decision to get students to school using city buses.