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Menifee Union eliminates busing for general ed students

By in Press Enterprise on July 15, 2017

By Michael Williams

As many as 1,300 elementary and middle school students in Menifee and parts of Murrieta and Lake Elsinore will no longer be able to rely on school buses to get to and from their campuses.

Menifee Union School District officials announced this week that the district is eliminating school transportation for general education students to help offset an estimated $2 million budget deficit.

As mandated by law, the district still must provide bus service to students with special education needs and children who are homeless, officials said in a news release. Limiting transportation to the mandated students should save the district about $700,000 over the next school year, officials said.

District spokeswoman Betti Cadmus said escalating costs for busing contributed to the trustees’ recent decision on transportation, despite their realization it would be unpopular with parents who use the service.

“Obviously, people are frustrated with this situation,” Cadmus said. “Transportation industry costs continue to rise and Menifee Union regrettably had no choice but to suspend this service due to budgetary reasons. This decision was not taken lightly.”

While administrators anticipated that busing would cost about $1.5 million per year, the price tag climbed over $2 million as a result of increased ridership. The popularity occurred in part because the district halted charging parents for the service. The district receives only $179,000 per year for transportation costs.

“We looked at a lot of different areas (for reductions),” District board President Bob O’Donnell said. “We wanted to keep anything we were doing as far away as possible from the classroom. What it came down to is, looking at the increases we were seeing in transportation, it was time to really bite the bullet.”

The announcement, including a post on the district’s Facebook site, provoked several hundred comments from parents, many of them critical of the decision.

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