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Local News in Brief : South County : Saddleback Board Delays Bus Cutbacks

Parents worried about their children’s safety persuaded the Saddleback Unified School District board Tuesday night to postpone any cutbacks in free bus transportation until at least the fall.

However, the board voted to reconsider the same plan, at a meeting April 4, for the school year beginning in September.

Board members also said Tuesday that reducing the bus service now would interrupt students’ schedules and would cause confusion.

For 5 years, the district had charged $135 per student for bus service to and from school. But last December the state barred school districts from charging fees for bus service, following an appellate court ruling that those fees were unconstitutional.

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Currently, the district pays for bus transportation for students in kindergarten through sixth grade who live at least three-fourths of a mile from school, for seventh- and eighth-graders who live at least a mile away, and for older students who live 2 or more miles away.

The plan shelved by unanimous vote Tuesday would have increased the minimum distances for all age groups.

Some parents from the Portola Hills area who have teen-agers attending El Toro High School on Toledo Way in El Toro said they were worried about their children walking 3.5 miles along El Toro Road to get to school.

“He might as well walk on the San Diego or the Santa Ana freeway because they go 65 m.p.h. there too,” parent Suzanne Childress said before the meeting.

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