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Surcharge to sports teams posed as option to trim school bus costs

Athletes may need to pay a portion of the bus fare when they're on the road, as the Perham-Dent school board continues to trim expenses.

The annual bus-transportation contract was discussed at length at the August 13 school board session.

Attempts to slash the bus contract by at least $50,000 have been thwarted by high fuel prices. Even by eliminating one entire route, as well as a handicapped route, the board only realized about $25,000 in real savings.

Board members and administrators are concerned that cutting another regular bus route could result in hour-and-a-half rides for some students.

"I'd rather cut funding for extra-curricular activities, than cut another bus route," said board member Dan Nodsle.

If the transportation costs are not cut, the school will likely be forced to start cutting more teaching positions, noted board member Dave Schornack.

Though the matter was only up for discussion, one of the options mentioned was a "sur-charge" to families for bus transportation to sports events.

One school district, for example, charges $200 per student in bussing fees. Also, schools are deciding to eliminate bussing to students living within one mile of the school.

To further review the transportation contract, which is with Bauck Bussing, and other bussing matters, the board asked administrators to complete a breakdown on transportation costs for each sport.

Further, board member Arnie Thompson said that the board should begin looking at the 2009-10 bus contract much earlier--even by fall of the previous year. With school only a few weeks away, the board has little time to explore options, he noted.