Put students on the bus to assure funding

It’s October. Do you know where your bus is?

Next week, Oct. 11 to 15, is Bus Ridership Week. What does this mean? This is our opportunity to make a huge impact on funding for our public schools’ bus system with very little effort.

Simply put, the more kids who ride the bus each morning for the entire week means more money for our bus transportation. Bus Ridership Week is based on a complicated formula that counts the number of students who get on the bus each morning during this week. The state determines from our ridership, during this one week, how much money they will give us for the entire school year.

The money that we receive from the state never covers all of our transportation needs. For example, last year we received $543,110. This year we have budgeted $617,739 as our estimated cost for transportation services. There is a huge gap in what our needs are and what the state gives us. Every child who does not take the bus during this week means we lose more money from the state. The more students who ride the bus, the smaller the gap. This shortfall is subsidized by the schools district’s general fund — the same pot of money that pays for teachers, books and supplies for our students.

You may think, “But my child never takes the bus, so why should I participate?” First, we always fall short on what is budgeted for transportation versus what we receive from the state. Can we afford to lose any more? Second, if your child ever rides the bus home with a friend, or to dance class or on a field trip, then he or she is depending on our school buses.

It’s really quite simple. Have your child at the same bus stop every morning for the week of Oct. 11 to 15. A volunteer will be on board the bus, counting all of the kids as they get on.

As an incentive, we will also be holding a raffle, celebrating all the kids who participate in Bus Ridership Week. Every time your child gets on the bus bound for Chautauqua Elementary School, he or she will be entered into a raffle to win $50 in “spending money” at The Little House. Every time your son or daughter gets on bus bound for McMurray Middle School or Vashon High School, they’ll be entered into a raffle for movie tickets at Vashon Theatre and free movie rentals from Movie Magic. Again, these raffles are our way of celebrating the bus system year round — but it only happens during Bus Ridership Week.

This is my first year on the PTSA board, and from our meetings with the school district, I am hearing loud and clear how important this funding is to all of us. That’s why you’ll find me participating in Bus Ridership Week, rain or shine!

Remember, the more kids who ride the bus each morning, every morning, for the entire week means more money for our bus transportation. Help us make every dollar count this year.

— Erica Davidson, a mother of three is vice president of the Vashon PTSA.

The PTSA still needs people to help count kids. Contact Erica Davidson, coordinator of Bus Ridership Week, at redpencom@yahoo.com.

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