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District Asks If Parents Would Pay For Buses

October 23, 2012, 5:57 PM by Brady Mallory

District Asks If Parents Would Pay For Buses
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

She might be a mother of five, but you can add chauffeur to Jamie Schmidt's resume.

"It's a part time job," Schmidt said, in reference to driving her kids to and from school. 

Schmidt lives within the Sioux Falls School District, and her son goes to Early Childhood Development at Hawthorne Elementary.  However, she sends two of her kids to Baltic.  Schmidt said she would pay for bus service.

"That would save my whole, I mean my whole day is based on when they are picked up and dropped off from school," Schmidt said.

A survey was sent out via email to all middle and elementary school parents, with questions about the transportation system.  A big focus of the survey is for officials to see if there are more parents like Schmidt who have their kids open enrolled within the Sioux Falls School District. 

"We're not out looking for business," Todd Vik, Sioux Falls School District Business Manager, said.

Vik said parents have expressed interest in paying so their kids can ride the bus if the school they go to is not within their bus route or within walking distance.

"We hadn't had anything set up.  That's why, based on those requests, we put the strategy in to get a feel for what parents are willing to pay if we do set up a fee-based system," Vik said.

It costs the district about $190 per student per semester.  In total, the district pays about $2 million for 5,200 students to ride the bus during the year.  In the survey, parents are asked if they would be willing to pay that much or $150, $100, $75, $50 and $25 per student per semester. Right now, this is just about gathering information to evaluate the district's transportation system.

"Nobody needs to worry about, 'Yesterday, I was riding for free and tomorrow I am going to start paying,'" Vik said.

Not every parent we talked to said they would be willing to pay for their kid to ride the bus, but they declined to give an on-camera interview.  The district will put these survey results together in January.

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