10:00 PM PST on Monday, February 8, 2010

By GAIL WESSON
The Press-Enterprise

Children may have to live farther from school to qualify for bus transportation if San Jacinto Unified School District trustees agree to a cost-saving recommendation at tonight’s board meeting.

Currently bus service is available to kindergarten through fifth-grade students living more than one mile from their elementary school and more than three miles away for students in grades 6-12 attending middle or high school.

The district is proposing a change to 2 ½ miles for elementary and five miles for secondary students in the 2010-11 school year, according to a report by Scott Shira, assistant superintendent for facilities and operations. The proposed distances match those in effect in the Hemet Unified School District.

Continuing the current service is projected to cost the district a base of $2.2 million. Increasing the walking distance is expected to cut the cost to $1.68 million, according to Shira’s report. Additional services, for example athletic or other extracurricular trips, cost $59 an hour.

If the walking distance changes, a projected 84 elementary students would be eligible for rides, compared to the 1,139 who currently are eligible, according to the district report. Four middle school students, compared to 97 would be eligible, and only 14, instead of 255, would be eligible for transportation to the high school.

Shira made a presentation about busing options at the trustees’ last meeting. Service is not mandated by state law and the state only reimburses the district about $220,478.

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