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Illinois School Bus Fees? Schools May Soon Charge Students For Bus Rides

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In this photo taken in April 2010, school buses wait in line to pickup students as school lets out for the day at Carl Sandburg Elementary School in Springfield, Ill. School buses might be the next target of big changes because of state budget cuts. Illinois education officials are considering a push to lift the requirement that schools provide transportation for students and also let them charge parents for the service. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) | AP

As school districts statewide complain about the mounting costs of transporting their students, the Illinois State Board of Education could soon allow for schools to either charge fees for students riding buses or stop busing them altogether.

NBC Chicago reports that the state board could introduce legislation as early as this week that would ease the financial burden on school districts struggling to pay to bus their students to school.

According to the Associated Press, state funding for student transportation was slashed 42 percent in 2011 when compared to the previous year, and the state is currently planning to keep that funding level flat -- the latest casualty of the state's financial mess.

Currently, the state reimburses school districts at a fixed percentage of their transportation costs, the AP reports. A new proposal means that the state would determine the average transportation costs for schools statewide and only reimburse districts up to that amount.

"The current formula really doesn’t do anything to provide incentives for efficiency," state board spokesman Matt Vanover explained to the State Journal-Register.

Downstate parents are reportedly not thrilled by the proposal. Rural areas -- such as Goreville in Johnson County -- would be particularly impacted should school bus service be slashed.

"That'd ruin a little town like Goreville and our school," said Dennis Parrish, Goreville school bus director and driver, told WPSD. "The parents are gonna have to step up and some of them don't even have vehicles, so what are they gonna do?"

A bill aimed at cutting school transportation costs is expected to be introduced later this week in Springfield.

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