The Sioux Falls School District recently surveyed parents to gauge their interest in paying for busing students to school.
The Brandon Valley School District has been busing students to school for more than 30 years. Rural busing has always been a free service, but families within city limits have been paying since the mid-1990s. Two years ago when the state reduced funding to school districts, Brandon Valley re-drew its busing boundaries. Now any family within five miles of the school pays to ride the bus.
"By in large, there wasn't very much push back," Brandon Valley Superintendent Dave Pappone said.
Pappone says parents we're more willing to step up and pay for busing rather than to see any cuts that impacted the classrooms.
"Very little resistance. Most of our families were saying, 'I'd rather pay a fee then see a teacher reduced and see the academic side reduced,'" Pappone said.
The fee is $75 per student, per semester, with a family maximum of $175. Any elementary student who is open enrolled in a school outside of their designated boundary pays $150 per student, per semester. Pappone says the fees don't cover the total busing costs for the district, but parents willingness to help pay for it keeps the convenience available.
"We don't go door to door, per se, but we have neighborhood pickup points and it's far more convenient for some parents to have their children picked up and we're happy to do it if they can help subsidize that," Pappone said.
Pappone says school busses are a very safe mode of transportation for children and they can be especially helpful during South Dakota winters.
More than half of all students in the Brandon Valley school district ride the bus.