Photo courtesy of Hoover City Schools
When Hoover students return to school in August, they can ride a bus with no fee just like they always have. A new system that would charge Hoover City Schools students to ride city school buses has been pushed back to an implementation goal of the 2015-16 school year.
On May 6, Hoover Superintendent Andy Craig released notification that the goal would be 2015-16 instead of a previously discussed 2014-15 school year. The Hoover City Schools Board of Education approved the fee structure during its April 17 regular meeting, but its implementation required approval from the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. District Court.
The system is intended to “eliminate or minimize the unfunded cost burden of providing student transportation.” The rates for the system would be $2.26 per day both ways for one rider, with a reduction to $1.59 for two riders and $1.19 for three or more riders. Students qualified for reduced and free lunch would be discounted by 50 and 63 percent respectively.
Hoover City Schools’ financial challenges have been at the forefront of local discussions since 2013, when the Board revealed its fiscal year 2014 budget. The budget projected $150 million in revenue and $167 in expenditures. In a release, Craig explained that state allocations have fallen short of operating costs for school transportation, and HCS have continued to grow.
State Superintendant Dr. Tommy Bice met with Craig on Monday to discuss Hoover’s financial matters.
“I was most encouraged that there is no immediate implications for transportation for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year,” Bice said. “It will be a year of study and planning, as key questions are answered… Student transportation is but one of many areas under study [to maintain level funding], as there remain legal questions to be answered but we are working through those collaboratively. ”