By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter
The cost for transportation is on the rise again at Palisades Charter High School as the Board of Trustees voted on Tuesday, April 17, to reserve the right to raise the monthly transportation fee from $185 to $215 amid an impending gap in the budget for the next school year.
For the 2017-18 school year, Pali High set aside close to $700,000 from its general fund for transportation scholarships “for students eligible for free and reduced lunches to offset their families’ transportation costs.”
That amount will now drop to $308,000 along with a revision of the application process to make sure funds are going to students who need them the most by creating “guidelines for qualification,” as the program is currently based on an honor system.
Close to half of students who ride the bus to Pali High pay the full fare with the other half receiving either full or partial funding from the school to aid their transportation costs, according to the director of operations.
The board’s objective is to create a discretionary fund to use on miscellaneous expenses that may come up, something they currently do not have.
“It will have some ramifications as those paying $185 will now be paying $215,” Trustee Robert Rene said. “That is nothing short of a lot of money. On the other hand, unless we start selling the chairs and the tables, there is no other place for us to makeup whatever short fall of requirements we have.”
The price hike follows last year’s increase from $145 to the current $185 and a saga of problems with private bus contractors after the withdrawal of LAUSD’s transportation funding.
Reminding the board of those problems, trustee and parent Shawn McClellan was the only board member to vote against the price hike.
“I don’t think parents are going to be too happy having to pay more money when buses have been late, when buses are pulling up and they are smoking and they’re shaking and there is no air conditioning,” McClellan said. “There is just a lot of things lacking with the transportation and then you want to ask them to pay more money. I think that’s an issue.”
Shortly after, the rise in transportation cost and the reduction in scholarship money was approved, 5-1.
The new transportation contract is expected to be made available by the next board meeting on May 17, but may be delayed until June.
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