Illinois Spending Cuts Hurting School Bus Budget

By WEEK Creative Services

May 13, 2011 Updated May 13, 2011 at 10:37 PM CDT

Illinois is cutting more than 40% from the transportation fund for state schools.

Add that to high gas prices, and the schools in Pekin are re-considering how they get kids to and from school.

"We are actually in a unique situation with the city of Pekin, where they provide our school bus transportation, under contract for us, but in our contract we do have fuel escalators, so as the price of fuel goes up our cost goes up," said Business Manager Pekin Dist. 108 Glayn Worrell.

Which is not good news for Pekin school districts.

The city says even though they get discounts for buying gas in bulk, the price at the pump is still around a dollar more now than this time last year for a gallon of gas, which is making a huge difference..

"We're doing around a 100,000 gallons a year, we are paying a hundred thousand and that's rough that's not an exact figure, but that is the correlation, one hundred thousand in a year?... Yes," said Superintendent of Transportation Ty Whitford.

And with states cuts, the school district could lose as much as a half a million dollars in funding that would have been used for transportation.

As of right now, the Pekin School District says there is little they can do about the gas prices.

But one solution they have come up with is consolidating bus routes.

"We try to be as efficient as we can on our routes, you want to get the most kids on the shortest routes possible and try to eliminate as many buses as you can," said Superintendent of Transportation Ty Whitford.

For one bus driver she says the buses are too crowded and is asking for help.

"They are trying to get more kids on the buses, but they are getting overcrowded. Can the government please help, can our congressman help, our state representatives, who do we call, where do we start?", said Pekin City Bus Driver Jeanie Barnes.

The Pekin School District is still waiting for a final budget review for this year to see how much they owe the city.

Until then the School Districts are continuing to evaluate bus schedules and routes to determine the most efficient way around the high prices.

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