By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
The Palisades Charter High School Board of Trustees discussed potential impacts of social distancing guidelines on bus transportation for students in the upcoming 2020-21 school year during a May 19 virtual meeting.
Currently, the school has budgeted for a typical school year and ridership appears to be shaping up similarly to the 2019-20 school year, according to Don Parcell, director of operations, who led the conversation. Student bus ridership tends to be in the range of 400 students.
Down payments for families choosing bus transportation are due at the end of June with deadlines being pushed back due to COVID-19.
“Once we hit the end of June and we will see who has made the proper and full down payments—that’s when we know our real ridership,” Parcell shared at the board meeting.
Depending on what model Pali High uses to implement social distancing guidelines should they be required to, the bus transportation budget could be affected in multiple ways for the 2020-21 school year.
“It could change the number of buses required,” Parcell said.
If bus transportation is required to implement social distancing guidelines, which results in fewer students on board per bus ride in the upcoming school year, the bus company will still expect to be paid the same price for that bus ride, Parcell explained.
“They don’t get paid on a per-student basis,” Parcell added. “They get paid on a per bus basis, so we would still have to pay for the whole thing.”
Bus scholarships for Pali High students may also be impacted if social distancing requirements are implemented for bus transportation in the upcoming year.
A slightly higher number than last year—roughly 46% of the ridership—applied for a bus scholarship. This doesn’t mean they are going to get it, Parcell shared.
Although money for bus scholarships has been allocated, bus scholarships have not been distributed yet for the 2020-21 school year, due to the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, future LAUSD guidelines for student bus transportation and potential increased costs for the overall Pali High transportation budget.
Out of the 189 students that have applied for scholarships so far, 34 are seniors and 155 are underclassmen, including incoming ninth graders, Parcell shared. Current 11th and 12th graders make up 77 of the 189 students.
“30% of the incoming freshmen have requested a scholarship and 22% of the seniors,” Parcell explained.
Executive Director Dr. Pamela Magee shelved the decision-making on the bus transportation scholarship discussion, per advice from their Legal Council to hold off until the next meeting.
The next Board of Trustees meeting is set for June 9.
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