Fuel prices slashing school bus routes

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO Fewer school buses will be running this fall leaving thousands of students in the Capistrano Unified School District to find their own way to class.

"It's going to be a pretty big change because I've been taking the bus my whole life," said Devin Toner, a student at Tesoro High.

"There's between 4,000 and 5,000 kids that were riding this year who are not going to be riding next year," said Michael Patton, Capistrano Unified School District.

The drastic measures are suppose to make up for budget shortfalls. District officials say they wanted to keep cuts out of the classroom. So to save $3.5 million there are layoffs including: 45 bus drivers, three supervisors, three maintenance workers and 62 bus routes will be reduced to 18.

"The way we arrived at 18 routes is that the state pays for 13 routes and we charge $400 per student round trip year round. So with that additional money that will fund the other five routes," said Patton.

At Dana Hills High School all bus service will be gone in the fall. At Capo Valley High, 15 of their buses will be down to six.

"There's no way it's not going to be disruptive to a whole lot of parents," said Patton.

"We'll probably put together some car pool system if you can't take public bus to school," said concerned parent, Mike Coggins.

"My parents are either going to drive me or I have to ride my bike," said Devin Toner.

Many are concerned about safety with more students walking or riding bikes or just more traffic around schools. "It will be really crowded here with all the cars and everything," said Dana Hills High School student, Carly Richards.

Toni Palusso, a bus driver for more than 20 years, still has her job, but says she'll miss her co-workers who are without work. And she feels for the students who will soon be without a bus.

"I am very sad because our kids have never been without a bus," said Palusso.

Bus service for special education students will not be affected by the change this fall.


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