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Budget cuts disrupts school bus services

July 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Battered budgets are forcing school districts across the state to take drastic measures. For students in the Yucaipa-Calimesa Unified School District, that means no more free bus rides to school. There's not a lot of demand for bus service in the summer. But in Yucaipa, some of the busses might be parked during the school year as well.

Because of budget cuts, bus service for all middle school students in this school district might soon be canceled. Which would mean a long walk for kids who can't catch a ride.

"It's a ways, it's all the way at the top of Yucaipa," said Tonya Jensen, a concerned parent.

To be precise it is a 5.7 mile trek for Tonya Jensen's kids. Jensen says she can't drive them to school, because she has to be at work at 6 a.m., and her husband is confined to a wheelchair. So she says the only way for her kids to get to school would be for them to walk. Something she won't make them do.

"Walking up the boulevard is not safe. Some students do walk and I see it all the time. But you know, I think how something in an instant could happen to that student," said Jensen.

But District Superintendent Dr. Sherry Kendrick says there's simply not enough money to pay for middle school bus service out here anymore.

"Yes, this is the worse I've ever seen it. We've had poor budget years before where we've had to make cut backs, but this is two years in a row and it's likely to go for another couple years," said Kendrick.

Kendrick says that cut just about everywhere else. She's aware of safety concerns. But she says there's no getting away from the fact that we're in a recession, and there are consequences.

"Some of us may have been spared from the state of the economy, the national economy, and the state's economy, and this is an example of how it's now trickled down to everyone," said Kendrick.

The school board is expected to vote on the issue next Tuesday.

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