Mokena SD 159 reduces bus fees for some but not all
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent March 8, 2013 8:46PM
Updated: April 12, 2013 6:23AM
Parents of some Mokena School District 159 students will get a bit of relief next school year in the form of lower transportation fees.
The board this week approved bus fees of $200 for all riders, which is the current fee for students who live more than 1 1/2 miles from their school. Families who live within 1 1/2 miles but opt to use bus service have been paying $375 per rider.
Families with more than one child taking the bus will see a $20 reduction per child for the second to fourth children, with fees capped at $680 for families of four or more riders. The cap will affect two families with five children currently in the district, Supt. Steve Stein said.
The fee restructuring will cost the district about $20,000 next school year, district business manager John Troy said. He recommended that the board not exceed $40,000 for all fee reductions because of what he called “a very tight budget.”
State cuts in busing reimbursements for next year will further complicate the issue, Troy said. He said the district received nearly $250,000 less in transportation funds this year from the state than in 2009, and he expects another $50,000 cut.
Board member Jeff Regan proposed cutting all bus fees to $185 per child with a family cap of $500, but the motion did not pass. He expressed frustration that the fees weren’t reduced further but voted in favor of the proposal.
“We haven’t given any relief to families beyond the 1.5-mile range,” he said. “Without a reduction in cost, we won’t increase (the number of riders).”
Regan has pushed for cutting all fees since being appointed to the board in September. He is running to keep the seat in the April election.
Fees for the Early Start program for 3- and 4-year-old at-risk children will be reduced by 10 percent from $675 to $607.50. Before the 2012 school year, the program was funded by the state.
Early Start children who return to District 159 from Lincoln-Way Special Education District 843 will pay a $128 fee next year, up from a $25 fee at 843.