Photo by Marienne Thomas Ogle
0913 Andy Craig buses
Hoover City Schools Superintendent Andy Craig speaks to members of the media following the Board of Education meeting on Aug. 12.
The lawyer who represents the Hoover City School Board of Education said Monday he is in dialogue with state officials to further investigate the legality of parents paying a fee that would enable their children to ride buses to and from the city’s schools.
Donald Sweeney told a packed house at Monday’s August board meeting that the fee-based system “is one of several plans that are being given serious consideration” in an effort to address the public opposition to the board’s July 4-1 vote to cut general bus service in order to save money.
Sweeny said he is also looking at the possibility of a private transportation system by a third party provider and the hope of “securing additional revenue” to help stem the ongoing drain on the Hoover school system’s revenues.
According to school officials, the system has seen a decline in revenues, including local, state and federal funds, coupled with an increase in student enrollment.
Since 2008, system revenues on a per-student basis have decreased from $13,715 to $11,356 for the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2012, said school officials. The decline represents a cumulative operating revenue loss for the same four-year period of $96.8 million; with revenues for fiscal year 2012 down $31.6 million compared to the fiscal year 2008 level.
After Sweeney addressed the audience, school board members and Superintendent Andy Craig heard comments from about 35 of those in attendance, the majority of whom requested the board rescind its decision to discontinue busing and take time to study alternative proposals before taking a final vote.
Those that addressed the board included residents, parents and school bus drivers. Topics brought up included safety, increased traffic, review of school district zoning, drop in property values and requesting Hoover city officials move to return funding to the school system that had been cut significantly years ago.
The board adjourned without comment or discussion and, following the meeting, board member Stephen Presley said addressing the busing issue must be “a joint effort.”