Newton, Miss. "We do regret that we have to do this," says David Irby, who is the Director for Transportation for the Newton Municipal School District. He's referring to a change within the district's policy that will take effect once the new school year starts. This change will discontinue bus pick up and drop off for students who live within one mile of his or her school. He says the change is partially needed to address the issue of aging buses.
"We've got buses that really need to be off routes because of the age of them," says Irby, "but we can't afford to buy buses. So therefore, it's putting the schools in the position to where this is the only other option that we do have.'
According to Irby, more than half of the district's 18 buses are 10-years-old or older.
"Over the past several years we've been underfunded by really over a half million dollars," says NMSD Superintendent Virginia Young. "So, it came to this point and we regret it, but basically there was no way around it."
Dr. Young says it's important to note that this change will not effect students who have special needs; instead, they will still be picked up and dropped off at their homes.
Pointing out that this change was not made to pay for raises for any district employees, Young says previously the bus service in question was provided to help parents and students. She says the change will now bring the district in compliance with a more than 30-year-old state law, and help save money.
"We should save around $91,000 and even with that savings, we're still going to be about $60,000 over budget."