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Calif. Moving to Shelter Bus Aid, to Rural Schools' Benefit

Proposed cuts to school bus transportation that would've crippled California's rural districts likely won't happen this year, but they're still a possibility in the near future.

An EdWeek story published online on Monday reported that lawmakers agreed to restore $248 million in home-to-school transportation funding for the remainder of the year. But next year's proposed budget still includes those bus cuts, and the decision to preserve the funding now could come at a bigger cost later.

We've been following the proposed transportation cuts as the state grapples with a $9.2 billion deficit. The new legislation, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign, would restore the transportation funds, but take money from the general fund schools receive. That means all schools would lose about the same per student, roughly $45.

The EdWeek story notes some districts would end up losing more per student than they would have with the bus cuts, but others would lose less.

An Associated Press story on the same issue focused more on rural districts, but it still wasn't clear what the across-the-board cut would mean for rural schools. What is clear is that rural students have to travel the farthest to get to and from school, and that's why bus transportation is so critical.

Rural schools had been making preparations for the bus cuts. The Associated Press article mentions tiny Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes Union School District, in the San Gabriel Mountains of Los Angeles County, where the school board was considering charging parents a fee for busing. Other small districts were considering online learning and expanding independent study programs for students who couldn't make it to school.

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