San Mateo may cut $600K from schoolbus budget

Each day, approximately 250 students from Foster City ride district buses to San Mateo high schools, but in the face of a $1.5 million budget deficit, those students may need to find their own rides next year.

To trim the deficit by a mid-June deadline, the San Mateo Union High School District staff has proposed a $600,000 cut for home-to-school transportation, said Liz McManus, associate superintendent of business. The largest portion of riders comes from Foster City, because there are no high schools within city limits to serve those children.

Foster City students would be hit hardest because San Mateo-based students can use SamTrans buses.

“It certainly would be a tremendous disappointment,” Foster City Councilwoman Linda Koelling said. “I believe that if the district is having difficult times budgeting, they need to make some other arrangements for transportation.”

On Thursday, San Mateo High School Principal Jacqueline McEvoy held a community meeting with parents at Bowditch Middle School to discuss the potential cuts to transportation. Approximately 40 percent of San Mateo High School’s 1,400 students come from Foster City, the largest portion at any high school in the district.

“The reality is that the cuts have to be made, but the more people you have taking a look at those cuts, it’s more likely that we’ll be able to keep the cuts away from our classroom,” said McEvoy.

McEvoy said the possibility of forming a task force to organize carpools and other transportation options may come from the meeting, but nothing has been planned yet.

The $600,000 cut is close to half of the district’s home-to-school transportation budget, which provides approximately 24 buses on 14 routes to serve between 350 and 400 students daily.

Of the district’s $1.3 million annual cost for transportation, the state only pays the district approximately $200,000. Recent increases to transportation funding in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s May budget revision will not make much of an impact.

“Even if they put more funding in there, it’s not going to backfill the actual cost of providing home-to-school transportation to the district. They’re not going to go from paying $200,000 to $1.3 million,” McManus said.

jgoldman@examiner.com  

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