Photo courtesy of Hoover City Schools
Following a decision by the Hoover City Schools (HCS) Board of Education, buses are scheduled to run again in 2014.
According to HCS media relations representative Jason Gaston, the board voted unanimously to rescind its July 15, 2013 decision to terminate bus service in 2014. Gaston said the board will retain its buses and drivers and is working through a process to determine a possible fee structure for riders.
A release sent Monday night, Dec. 9 following the Board's decision stated that the board is currently in discussions with the United States Department of Justice and other organizations to develop the new system.
"These discussions have focused primarily on potential service delivery models that would utilize district owned buses and district employed drivers while incorporating mechanisms to reduce the negative financial effects of the underfunded nature of transportation program operations," the statement reads.
Basically, that means the Board will attempt to offset the difference between what the State of Alabama allots the Board for transportation and what the service actually costs.
Trisha Crain, a Hoover resident who founded the informational website alabamaschoolconnection.org, said the crowd at the meeting erupted into applause when the vote to rescind passed. She also said board members calmed residents' nerves by assuring that fees would be set at a manageable level.
Crain, who has worked with the Save the Hoover Bus System organization since the Board made the decision to cut buses in July, said the decision was a "real victory" for residents.
"Residents did a tremendous job keeping this in front of the Board, and bringing in the Department of Justice was key," she said.
Board member Derrick Murphy also said the community was instrumental in pushing the board to search for alternatives, but added that Superintendent Andy Craig played a large part in finding an alternative solution.
"The community came forward and wanted additional options and clarification, and Superintendent Craig did his due diligence," Murphy said "He met with members of the community as well as the state and federal government to see what we could do, and I'm encouraged he took that initiative."
Both Crain and Murphy said the problem of a $12 million operating deficit still loomed.
"I'm going to be more comfortable when I see a real plan to reduce the deficit because that's really what we have to do," Crain said. "This was an outcropping of not living within our means."