Bill will ask California to pay for the school bus


California may soon pay school bus fares to and from K-12 schools, providing relief for the millions of children who were able to return to in-person neighborhood schools last fall. but there is no reliable way to get there.

SB 878 will ensure that nearly all public students in grades TK-12 – including students who are homeless or have special needs – have free transportation to and from their neighborhood school. them every day.

If the measure passes, school districts or county offices of education could launch or expand their own state-funded public school transportation systems, or partner with transportation agencies. public transport to get students to school.

Senator Nancy Skinner, an East Bay Democrat, introduced legislation to bring California to the national standard for transportation from home to school.

Skinner said Tuesday she doesn’t know how much it will ultimately cost the state. It will depend on whether schools need to create robust transit systems, or choose cheaper routes by partnering with local transit agencies, a spokeswoman for her office said today. Tuesday.

“There is a fund in the state budget that provides for school transportation, but it is not all-inclusive,” says Skinner. “Unfortunately, the counties that don’t provide it are the counties that need it; so low-income communities. ”

The county or county office of education will be required to draft their own plan and will receive state funding in reimbursements to pay for the service. It will not begin until the 2023-24 school year.

Critics have so far told the Bay Area News Group that they are unsure how the state will accommodate transportation for every student given the current massive transportation staff shortage.

Several school districts in the Bay Area have partnered with local transit agencies to offer all students a reduced price on their fare ticket, or a free pass for students who qualify for a free pass. low income. San Francisco Unified has its own yellow bus service and students 18 years of age and younger can also ride the regular SF Muni bus and the free rail service as an alternative to school buses.

San Jose Unified partners with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority to get kids who need transportation to school. Families may request a free pass from the school district. But the transportation system in San Jose is not as extensive as in denser cities like San Francisco.

“They have a more complex transportation system,” said Stephen McMahon, associate director at San Jose Unified. “Unfortunately in the valley, VTA is a good partner for us, but it’s not the same range.”

San Jose offers yellow bus routes to 6% of its students. McMahon said half of those students are in special education programs. In the East Bay, West Contra Costa only provides bus transportation to and from school for special education students, said Ryan Phillips, a spokesman for the district.

The lack of free transportation to school, especially in California communities like West Contra Costa and San Jose, where public transit is less reliable or affordable for families has had a “negative impact.” widespread and lasting impact on children, especially for students from low-income families, and Skinner said in a press release.

Lack of transportation to school is one of the most common reasons students miss school, and Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, Pacific Islander, and Latino students are more likely to be absent. unlicensed in their records most, according to data released by the state Department of Education in November 2020.

“Studies show a strong relationship between transport accessibility and improved school attendance, especially among younger students,” Skinner said in a statement.

It is unclear whether schools will be able to find enough drivers to meet school bus demand if this measure goes ahead. Schools across the region are facing massive labor shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising omicron cases. Transit agencies that partner with school districts across the state are also solve the shortage of transportation workers.

Because there aren’t enough drivers to ensure the state’s more than 6 million students have a bus route, McMahon said he’s not sure how Skinner’s bill will cover everyone’s transportation to and from school. people in their school district or elsewhere.

However, there are some provisions in the measure: A school district would not be required to provide home-to-school services
transportation for students in TK through 6 who live within a half-mile of a neighborhood school or for students in grades 7 through 12 who live within a mile of walking distance
distances from their neighboring fields. Bill will ask California to pay for the school bus

Huynh Nguyen

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