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Carthage ISD idles rural buses for summer school program

By by Rodger G. McLane rmclane@news-journal.com
June 27, 2013 at 10 p.m.


CARTHAGE - Students who live in rural areas and are taking summer school classes in Carthage ISD must find their own way to class. The school district does not have funds to pay for rural school bus transportation, Superintendent Glen Hambrick said.

"We can't do everything that people would like us to do," Hambrick said. "To pick up every child who wanted to go to summer school would be impossible."

Two buses are provided for students living within the city limits to take them from pre-designated stops to Baker Koonce Intermediate, where CISD is holding summer school for 107 kindergartners through eighth graders.

Principal Kiley Shumacher said an additional 35 primary students are participating in the optional English as a second language school offered to pre-kindergarten and kindergarteners free of charge.

All other summer school students were required to pay $50, $75 or $100 depending on whether they receive free, reduced or regular priced lunch. Those prices haven't gone up this year, but they don't include the price of transportation, Hambrick said.

"We're not required to provide transportation in the summer, but we send buses in town because they're only two short routes," Hambrick said.

According to the transportation department, ridership on the in-town routes fluctuates between 60 to 80 students.

"It would cost us $80,000 to send buses on all 34 regular routes during the summer to pick up all the kids in the country," Hambrick said. "That's a teacher-and-a-half's salary for a whole school year."

The 2012-13 school district budget was about $34 million, of which several million dollars are deducted for Robin Hood payments to the state. Of that $34 million, $80,000 is roughly .24 percent, less than 1 percent of the budget.

Some parents have been forced to make tough decisions regarding their children's future because of the lack of transportation and cost of summer school.

"We've had some who haven't been able to send their kids because of the transportation service," Shumacher said. "One didn't come because of the money, and if they don't pay for summer school, they will be retained in the current grade."

In the area, Gary ISD does not offer summer school transportation for its 56 students taking summer classes, but Beckville ISD sends a driver and a school SUV to pick up its summer school students.

"We use an SUV trying to save money," said Gay Harris, BISD maintenance director. "We have about five students who ride per day. The rest are getting there on their own."

In May 2012, CISD voters approved $9.5 million in bonds for renovations, technology upgrades, a $750,000 scoreboard and a $3 million indoor training facility.

Left over money from those bonds can not be used to support the district's operational needs, Hambrick said.

"Bond money can only be used for certain things," Hambrick said. "Purchasing buildings, renovations, permanent structures and capital assets. Providing transportation is a (maintenance and operation) operational cost."

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