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Reduction in bus service saves district $300,000
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Manteca Unified’s transportation plan for next year has the potential to be fair for some and unfair to others.

The Level II cut was officially approved by the school board, extending the current walking distance by a half-mile, thus, saving the district about $300,000 for the 2009-10 school year.

The new “no bus zone” plan – it replaces the term “walking distance” – is designed to make the most efficient use of the buses.

The “no bus zone” calls for kindergarten-through-eighth-grade youngsters residing within a 1.25-mile radius of the campus, and ninth-through-12th-grade students living inside 2.5 miles, to provide their own means of transportation to and from school.

Trustee Wendy King, who drove along some of the bus routes, indicated that the new home-to-school transportation plan makes some sense.

“I was surprised we were busing kids who should be walking,” she said.

Those attending the transportation meetings held a few months ago – some 90 comments submitted to the district – expressed safety concerns, particularly in the areas along Lathrop High, south of the Highway 120 Bypass, and east of Manteca.

“We will continue to monitor (the transportation plan),” Superintendent Jason Messer said.

In addition, the board unanimously approved plans for the bus fee for student athletes ($75 per student will be good for the entire school year), and the home-to-school transportation for those with disabilities as specified under the individualized education program.

Cost for the latter will give Manteca Unified some flexibility to its general fund, with Proposition 98 money defraying costs previously contracted to the school bus services of First Student.