Hoover Schools officials considering options for bus services

Published 8:21 pm Monday, August 12, 2013

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HOOVER — Hoover City Schools officials are considering several options for bus services after a Board of Education decision to discontinue those services for regular education students in the 2014-2015 school year sparked a public outcry.

At a Hoover Board of Education meeting Aug. 12, board attorney Donald Sweeney said the bus services issue has “rocked and riveted” the community. He said the board has taken public comments into consideration, and system officials are looking into possible solutions.

Those potential solutions so far include:

— A fee-based system, where parents of Hoover City Schools students would pay the difference between the cost of a school bus system and what the state would reimburse.

— A private transportation company, which would work directly with parents to provide bus services.

— Seeking additional revenue to help pay for bus services.

Sweeney said he is consulting state legislators, the attorney general and other state officials about the legality of those options.

Parents and concerned citizens have brought up issues such as safety, employment for school bus drivers, economic issues and traffic congestion to school system officials, and those officials are working hard to find a solution to meet those issues, Sweeney said.

“All the issues need to be on the table, all the issues need to be considered,” he said.

Sweeney also said he is recommending that another public forum or meeting be held after system officials study possible options for transportation services.

After Sweeney spoke, several parents, grandparents and bus drivers spoke to the school board, offering possible solutions and comments.

Many speakers urged board members to ask the city of Hoover for more funds to help offset the cost of bus services or find another way to increase revenue. Some said they would be willing to consider paying higher taxes to help bring in more revenue.

Several of the speakers expressed regret that the system’s school bus drivers are in danger of losing their jobs.

“We have school bus drivers that we know and that really care for our children,” one said.

After the meeting, Hoover Superintendent Andy Craig said he didn’t know how long it would take for system officials to research the transportation options.

“We’re still working through the process,” he said.

Craig also said he wasn’t sure if he would recommend that the Board of Education hold another public forum on the bus services issue.

“I don’t have any definite plans along those lines right now,” he said.