COLUMBIA — Fewer buses' wheels are going round and round providing transportation for Ridgeway Elementary School this year as a result of the school board's budget cuts.
This year's budget gave Ridgeway's bus system $100,000 less than last year. As a magnet school, Ridgeway has students from across the Columbia Public School District, which makes transportation more expensive than for neighborhood schools.
Linda Quinley, business director for Columbia Public Schools, said the original plan was to eliminate all bus routes that operate outside Ridgeway's neighborhood zone. Under this plan, parents who live outside the zone would be responsible for getting their children to school and back. Families opposed eliminating these bus routes, so a compromise was made to rearrange the routes to make them less costly while still providing transportation for all students.
The revised plan reduced the number of the school's buses from 14 to 11. The plan is more cost efficient, Quinley said, because although some buses are going further, the buses are traveling less miles overall. Fewer buses means fewer bus driver salaries.
Many of the students weren't riding the buses because their homes are so spread out across Columbia, said Blake Tekotte, transportation director for Columbia Public Schools. He predicted that the buses holding the most students were only transporting between 15 and 20 students each day.
Surveys were sent to parents to find out which students were riding the buses and when. From the survey information, buses were rerouted to only go to areas where children were actually using the transportation.
Principal Marsha Baclesse said Ridgeway hadn't noticed any significant changes because of the new routes.