Elgin School Officials Want Busing Flexibility From The State

ELGIN, Ill. (CBS) — What’s more important: a bus ride to school or class offerings, class size or extracurriculars?

The state’s second-largest district says it’s cut into the latter because it has to follow a strict Illinois busing law.

CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports.

Busing your precious cargo from home to school and back costs money. But in the last couple of years, Illinois government has significantly cut money it pays for transportation.

Students must be bused to school if they live at least 1.5 miles from school.

“It’s an unfunded mandate … an underfunded mandate,” says School District U-46 Chief of Staff Tony Sanders.

The district is feeling the pinch. Sanders says about $20 million of its budget deficit comes from transportation costs.

U-46 doesn’t want to keep cutting expenses from the classroom, so it let legislators know other states have looser busing guidelines. In Wisconsin, you get to ride the school bus if you live two miles out. In Missouri, it’s 3.5 miles, and in Nebraska is four miles.

“What we all need at the local level is flexibility from the state,” Sanders said.

Parents had mixed reactions to the idea of adjusting the busing requirement.

The district says just adding a half mile to the pick up zone would save about half a million.

It has already cut stops and lengthened the walk for some of its high schoolers to save bucks — and there’s been pushback.

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