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GCS Considers Cutting Bus Routes For Magnet Schools

6:42 PM, Jan 15, 2014   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, NC -- Parents of about 5,500 children in the Guilford County schools system might have to find another way to get their kids to school if a proposal for the school board to fill a budget hole is approved.

The Guilford County School Board is considering cutting bus routes for magnet school kids, to save money.

The idea was raised at the board's meeting Tuesday night. School board member Rebecca Buffington says it was painful for the board to even consider the idea knowing it'll be a burden on a lot of families.

But she says the board has been backed into corner to make cuts.
"Magnet school transportation is a large budget item, as you know," she explained. It costs the district $5.1 million to run buses just to magnet schools. Those are schools with special curriculums and are sometimes outside a child's school zone.

The money saved from cutting the bus routes would make a huge dent in the forecasted $8.5 million deficit in the district's budget for the next school year.

But at whose expense? Buffington and other members of the board agree thousands of students - and their parents - many who don't have any other way of getting their children to school.

"We realize that if transportation was not a piece of these schools that it would eliminate this option for some of our students that probably need it the most," Buffington said while getting emotional.

None of the board members seem to support the proposal and are hoping they can come up with other ideas.

But their other options aren't much better. Board Chair Alan Duncan says they include potentially cutting some school resource officers or closing down schools, among other ideas.

"This is a hard thing on the list there's no easy things on the list. We've got to look for a big chunk of change," Buffington said.

The board did not vote on the matter Tuesday night. But Duncan says they needed to start the discussion because the magnet school fair is next weekend.

He explains that they want parents to know - going in - that they might not have transportation available to their kids. But again, these are all proposals -- nothing has been finalized.

The board plans to talk about the issue, further, at its next meeting.

Another idea they tossed around to save money was to consolidate some of the bus routes. The Guilford County School system is made up of 126 schools and 54 of them are magnet/early college programs.

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