State budget cuts raise costs for buses, meals

| August 5, 2011 | 0 Comments

School Liaison Office
News Release

School Liaison Office

School Liaison Office

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Starting this school year, parents will dig deeper into their pockets because the Board of Education approved an increase in school bus fares and meal prices.

The one-way cost of school bus fares rose from 75 cents to $1.25, Aug. 1.

This increase brings the cost of a quarterly pass from $60 to $72; the annual pass increases from $225 to $270.

Unexpired bus passes purchased under the old prices will be honored.

The fare increase helps make up for a $9.6 million cut in funding for student transportation.

The Hawaii state legislature appropriated $49.3 million in general funds for student transportation this fiscal year, compared to $58.9 million appropriated in the past fiscal year that ended June 30.

These fare increases will no doubt decrease bus ridership for families who are already struggling in the current economic downturn.

Even assuming a 5-percent decrease in ridership, the Department of Education anticipates that at least $1 million will be generated by the increased fares.

Statewide, 37,000 students ride school buses; however, 54 percent pay nothing for bus service because they come from low-income households.

Army families that will depart Hawaii with permanent change of station orders during the school year are encouraged to purchase a quarterly pass or coupons instead of the annual pass. Doing so will eliminate the need to request a refund. Getting a refund is difficult since the DOE reviews each request on a case-by-case basis.

Starting Sept. 1, elementary school lunch meal prices will decrease and all secondary meal prices will increase because secondary meals are larger and cost more.

Elementary school

  • Breakfast will remain at $1.
  • Lunch will decrease from $2.35 to $2.25.

Secondary school

  • Breakfast will increase from $1 to $1.10.
  • Lunch will increase from $2.35 to $2.50.
  • Reduced meal prices remain the same. These meal prices have gradually increased over the years. The ultimate goal is for families to pay 50 percent of the price it costs to prepare the meals.

School Liaison Office

If you have questions about the new changes to bus and meal prices, call the School Liaison Office at 655-8326.

Q and A

Q: As a resident of Aliamanu Military Reservation, I am very concerned about the recent decision to cancel bus transportation for our children who attend Red Hill Elementary. I would like to know if there will be a junior police officer, or JPO, either military or civilian, at the intersection to help the children cross this busy intersection.

If not, will lights, speed bumps or signs be installed at the intersection to help ensure their safety? Is there an option available where parents could pay for bus service?

A: Unfortunately, the school system is not planning to provide JPOs at this intersection due to its distance from the school campus. Our military police simply do not have the manpower available to support this effort.

While it is possible there may be some civilian volunteers interested and available to monitor children as they cross the street, this method is something parents and community leaders would have to pursue.

As for the installation of lights, speed bumps and signs to help control traffic, it’s doubtful the city and county would be willing to do this near a freeway on- and off-ramp, but it is something you may wish to pursue with your local representatives.

The annual cost for bus service is estimated to be $186,000. Perhaps the easiest, most effective and cost-efficient option is for parents to carpool or make other arrangements, like city buses, for their children to be dropped off and picked up from school.

(This question was received from a community member and answered by Col. Douglas Mulbury, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.)

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Category: Community, Education

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