Home to school busing for all students may return next month when Manteca Unified starts the new school year.
And at some point select students may have to pay to ride the bus.
The scope of transportation the district will provide and whether it will cost students to ride is expected to be decided Tuesday when the MUSD board meets at 7 p.m. at the district office on Louise Avenue at Airport Way.
Transportation will be provided regardless for special education, homeless, foster students and migrant farm worker camp children that are enrolled in before and after school tutoring at French Camp School.
Such transportation is mostly mandated by the state.
The big question is whether to and from school transportation will be provided for other students.
Prior to the pandemic, the district provided bus service for elementary students who were 1.25 miles or farther from school based on the designated bus stop. The distance was 2.5 miles for high school students.
That is one option being considered Tuesday.
The other is to increase the minimal distance for busing to 2 miles for kindergarten through 8th grade students and 3 miles for high school students.
The district before — and during — the pandemic had 456 special education students and 861 students classified as homeless they were required to bus. Due to social distancing requirements all available buses were used to transport special education and homeless students.
That meant bus service for 1,200 other students that lived outside of walking distance to campuses was dropped.
If the board opts to retain their pre-pandemic transportation policy it would require busing about 1,200 students. Revising that policy for longer walking distances would reduce the number of student’s eligible for busing.
The board also will decide whether to put in place a policy that would allow for the district to charge students to ride the bus that they aren’t mandated to transport.
If adopted it would open the door for the superintendent to propose fees for transportation services as allowed by law similar to what Ripon Unified School District has in place. The fees would be reviewed and approved by the board before they are implemented.
Ripon Unified charges $175 a year for a bus pass or $1 per day. If the bus pass is purchased on a semester basis the cost is $100. The maximum per year a family will pay is $450. If families opt for the semester pass, the max they would pay per semester is $300.
That means students the district is not mandated to bus could be assessed fees to do so. Those who qualify for free meals would not pay the fee while those that are eligible for reduced meals would have the bus fee reduced accordingly.
That also means fees could be imposed for teams traveling to out-of-town sporting events as well as field trips and excursions.
The district spent $6 million in the 2019-2020 school year to bus not just special education and homeless students but the 1,200 other students that lived farthest away from campuses. Despite busing being mandated for some category of students, the district doesn’t receive any state funding to do so.
The fees would help the district avoid further eating into money that could go to the classroom.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com