District may eliminate $25 student fee for activity bus

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Seneca Valley parents may get a break next school year on the activity bus fee.

School board members are considering eliminating the annual $25 charge that pupils must pay to ride the buses provided for those who stay for clubs, sports and other activities beyond the regular school day.

"Seventy percent of our students live in Cranberry and we encourage the kids to get involved in extra-curricular activities," said James Pearson, director of transportation at Seneca Valley.

Mr. Pearson said they learned that the state transportation subsidy will pay the district more than it makes on the fees it charges pupils. The district cannot apply for the subsidy if it charges a fee, he said.

The district made about $32,800 from the pupils on activity bus fees this school year.

He said district would have to charge pupils $125 to bring in the equivalent amount of money the district will receive from the subsidy.

If board members decide to eliminate the fee, they won't see the transportation subsidy immediately.

Lynn Burtner, district business manager said the subsidies are paid out as reimbursements the following school year.

Mr. Pearson said he is also looking for other savings, but hasn't been successful.

The district considered placing advertising on the buses, which state law permits only on the inside, he said.

He said they abandoned the idea after contacting Parkland School District in Allentown, the only other district in the state to attempt to put advertising on buses to generate revenue.

He said officials at Parkland told them they could not find anyone interested in advertising inside the buses.

Mr. Pearson said they also considered eliminating the late activity bus run on Mondays and Fridays, but could not find a cost savings. He said they would have to add more buses to the early activity bus schedule which would cost more than keeping the current schedule.

He said they also looked at double bus runs and transfer buses, which other area districts have recently implemented to save money.

He said those programs are successful only in areas where homes are in proximity to each other. They are able to do some double runs in Cranberry but not other areas because the district is large. He said Seneca Valley is about 100 square miles.

He said they do use transfer buses for some of the parochial school pupils the district must transport and fifth- and sixth-graders at Connoquenessing Valley Elementary School who live in Evans City.

neigh_north

Laure Cioffi, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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