As parents pay for bus rides, Keller ISD ponders legal action against state

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on July 19, 2011 at 9:10 PM

KELLER — Parents in Keller ISD will have to come up with $185 if they want their child to ride the bus this fall; it'll be $135 addditional for each sibling.

The school board approved the pay-to-ride bus service on Monday night.  Superintendent Dr. James Veitenheimer is not blaming voters who shot down a proposed tax increase; he singles out the state's school funding formula.

Veitenheimer said cutting bus service was a well-known reality in Keller if the district's tax increase did not pass last month.  When it failed, the district had to make up the rest of its $30 million budget gap. 

That's why parents will have to pay for bus rides.

Veitnenheimer said there is a flawed funding system from the state that gives Keller $5,000 for each student, while other districts get close to $12,000. If Keller had that revenue, bus service would never be cut, the superintendent told reporters on Tuesday.

"Students in Keller ISD are worth less financially than students in our neighboring districts." he said. "I believe there are districts across the state that are lined up to do what has to happen in these times of crisis, which is to sue the state to look for a better way to fund public schools."

Dr. Veitenheimer believes other school districts are going to have to make similar decisions about bus services and programs in the coming months.  He says that will lead to legal battles between the schools and the state.

Keller ISD says parents won't have to pay for bus service all at once; the district will accept payments on a month-to-month basis. Students who take part in the free or reduced-price lunch program will pay $100 per semester, an $85 discount.

The district also revealed that a clerical error overestimated the budget cuts.  By finding $1,400,000 in its budget, Keller ISD will hire or rehire 25 teachers. 

About 100 teachers were included in the latest round of cuts when the tax increase failed.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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