Some school buses eliminated in Livingston

The News Leader

August 27, 2010 3:28:00 PM PDT
Free school bus service is being eliminated in many communities this fall.

That means parents have to fork out hundreds of dollars to pay for their kids to get bussed to school, which is money they don't have.

Livingston parents like Donna Hieger are learning there won't be many free bus rides to school this fall.

"If I'd known I would have to pay for busing I don't know if I would have moved here," Hieger said.

The Livingston District lost $5 million in state aid.

In a trend echoed in districts throughout New Jersey, parents are paying for services they used to get for free.

"It's something that has to get done in order to keep the level of education that we have and that we're really proud of," said parent, Karen Galenites.

Round trip school bus fare in Livingston costs $750.

1,600 students used to be bused for free, now just 900 students get mandatory busing because they live further than two miles from their school.

Last year 260 parents paid to bus their children, and this year, 460 parents will pay.

Livingston used to provide free busing for children who would otherwise be forced to cross hazardous intersections like a 3-way stop.

But now, those parents are being told pay up, or find another way.

"The school has been able to afford a lot of wonderful things, if it can't happen this year and we all have to chip in, will it make me have to make decisions, absolutely," said parent, Dina Wright.

The new busing policy saves the Livingston District $350,000.

Its money administrators believe is better spent in the classroom.

"To preserve the education the students get is the top priority," said Livingston District Spokeswoman Jessica Ganz.

Livingston school administrators are working with the police to add crossing guards at some of the most treacherous intersections.