Hoover school board rescinds decision to cut bus servicePublished 9:13am Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By CASSANDRA MICKENS / Associate Editor
HOOVER — Applause and cheers flooded the Hoover Board of Education Dec. 9 as the school board voted unanimously to rescind its decision cut bus service in the 2014-2015 school year.
School officials will now brainstorm ways to restore bus service with the school system’s own bus fleet and drivers and charge students a fee to ride the bus. The fee has yet to be determined.
The school board first voted to cut bus service in July in an effort to save $2.5 million annually and alleviate financial strain. The decision prompted some parents and concerned residents to form the group Save the Hoover Buses. The group made its presence and concerns known to school and city officials, saying the decision was an attempt to rid the school system of minority and low-income students. The group also quietly protested at city events, including last week’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
School officials had been in talks with a third party private transportation company, School Transportation Services (STS), about providing bus service for affected students. However, parents reported that they would pay at least $120 a month per child to ride the bus, citing figures from John Carroll Catholic School parents who use STS.
Those opposed to the school bus cuts also questioned its effect on city property values and quality of life, which led Hoover City Councilman Gene Smith to personally fund a $30,000 study measuring the potential impact. The study determined the school bus cuts would hurt home prices and home sales, as well as employment and retail sales.
School officials remain in talks with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding alternative transportation options. The Justice Department began reviewing Hoover schools’ transportation program last month.