Aug 30, 2010
Wake County middle and high school students who stay after school for sports practices, band, clubs or other activities can stop scrounging for a way to get home, which is what they had to do until a school board vote Monday restored transportation for after-school activities.
The school board unanimously voted at a special meeting to put $685,000 back into in its already-approved 2010-11 budget for school buses to take students home.
The district budget, apparently in a section that school board members had overlooked, had chopped about $950,000 from the after-school and mid-day extra bus runs.
Monday's vote leaves the mid-day runs out of the picture, finance chief David Neter said, but after-school use will be back.
The board decided to use $185,000 from an expected $27 million in federal job aid for schools and pinned the rest of the action on the hope that a continuation of lower-than-expected fuel costs generates the other $500,000.
Some regular district bus drivers, who normally work a six-hour day, will be assigned to work up to two added hours at straight time, for the extra runs.
The vote repairs what Chairman Ron Margiotta called a "mess-up" by the board in shaping the $1.4 billion budget for the current year.
"We messed up by not recognizing" the change, Margiotta said.
The yellow buses for after-school activities are different from the white or other-colored activity buses that take sports teams to away games or students on field trips, Neter and facilities chief Don Haydon told the board.
School principals control those buses through each school's budget.
Neter warned that the staff might come back to the board later in the year if fuel savings fall apart. On the positive side, he noted that while the federal aid is intended for the 2010-11 school year, the law that took effect Aug. 10 does permit carrying over money into the 2011-12 year if funds are left.
The board's earlier cut was part of $20 million in budget reductions, but the move caused problems for parents who relied on the service to get their students home once after-school activities are over.
Martin Middle School Principal Wade Martin said the lack of service has hit the school’s low-income families the most.
“We have students who would not be able to participate in fall sports,” Martin said. “We have already heard from some parents the difficulty in providing that transportation everyday after practice.”
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