General Education School Buses Will Become a Thing of the Past at Pasadena Unified

Published : Thursday, July 26, 2018 | 5:33 AM

General education students won’t be climbing on buses to head off to school in the Pasadena Unified School District next year. That convenient, time-honored element of schooling youngsters is falling victim to the deep cuts needed to keep the District afloat.

Many parents, faced with a new, more complex morning routine, have objected. Try as they might, administrators have not found any practical alternatives.

Pasadena Unified Board Member Scott Phelps said it’s necessary.

“We’re in a fiscal crisis,” he said. “I’ve been saying that all year: all discretionary expenses are on the table for to be reduced.”

Pasadena Unified Superintendent Brian McDonald said in a statement announcing the change that the District has formerly operated seven buses to provide transportation to hundreds of students who attend schools different than their designated campuses of residence.

“However, in light of our District’s budget situation, general education transportation service can no longer be offered and will be discontinued in the 2018-19 school year as $12 million in reductions in the Fiscal Stabilization Plan and Second Interim Report are implemented,” he said.

Special education transportation service will continue, as required by law, according to a city staff report. And buses will still likely be used for athletic trips. But the District is looking into finding a cheaper way to get it done.

But General Ed. busing is discretionary, Phelps said. “We don’t have to provide General Ed. transportation. So we eliminated that, and some people are upset about certain routes.”

History has shown that schools can continue to function, he said.

District drivers went on strike for two weeks early this year.

“In that bus strike, we looked at attendance and there wasn’t any decline in attendance,” Phelps said. “So we know it’s possible for parents to step up.”

Pasadena Unified’s staff has explored other potential options to continue general education student transportation, to no avail.

They include rideshare service like Uber and Lyft, making use of public transportation, bringing back limited general education bus routes and having general education students ride along with the special education students, according to staff reports. Each raised financial and practical problems.

“We can’t afford it,” Phelps said.

Thursday’s Pasadena Unified School District meeting will include a public hearing on the decision to end general education bus service throughout Pasadena Unified.

The public portion of the meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the District headquarters, 351 S. Hudson Ave.

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