Districts to pick up school bus tab

Glendale and Burbank school districts will absorb hundreds of thousands of dollars in state-mandated cuts to student busing to ensure that transportation services won’t be interrupted, their superintendents said this week.

Gov. Jerry Brown last month announced $1 billion in mid-year budget cuts, including $79.6 million in funding for K-12 schools and an additional $248 million in transportation funds. The reductions were not as severe as anticipated, but nevertheless delivered a wallop to school districts.

State law mandates that districts provide transportation for students with disabilities, and in some cases to ensure the desegregation of schools.

Glendale Unified will lose about $750,000 due to the mid-year cuts, including $350,000 in reimbursements for the busing of special education students, Supt. Dick Sheehan said. The district will absorb those costs.

“One, it would be against the law not to provide transportation for these students,” Sheehan said. “Two, it is the right thing to do.”

Rural districts that bus a large portion of their students were hurt most by the cuts, Sheehan said.

Burbank secondary schools pay for busing services to athletic events and other extracurricular activities out of student government coffers, thus will not be affected by the state-level cuts, Burbank Unified Supt. Stan Carrizosa said.

Still, Brown’s mid-year budget revision means about $400,000 in total cuts to Burbank Unified, about half of which will be for reimbursements for special education busing, he said.

“We will lose a little in the state budget cut for our special-education transportation — about $200,000 — but will still be required to pay these costs to transport eligible children,” Carrizosa said. “We will simply continue to tighten our belts and make up these cuts.”

Los Angeles Unified and Pasadena Unified — which stand to lose $38 million and $1.6 million in transportation funds, respectively — fared far worse than Burbank and Glendale.

Los Angeles Unified officials have said that they will sue the state over the lost transportation dollars.

Overall, the recently announced cuts to public education could have been worse, education officials said, although they added that it is ironic that any loss of funding would elicit relief.

“We are only going to be cut three-fourths of a million dollars and we are thankful for that, and that is the sad state of education,” Sheehan said.

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