Students must pay to ride bus to school |

Students must pay to ride bus to school

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Besides being yellow, school buses in Lake Tahoe Unified School District will have one more similarity with taxis — charging their customers.

The school board voted unanimously Tuesday night to impose bus fees for next school year in an effort to raise $100,000.

Board members and staff have flirted with transportation fees since the beginning of the year to combat declining enrollment, uncertain impacts from a state budget crisis and higher operating costs. The board held off a decision May 13 to obtain more public comment on the issue and felt Tuesday was the time to vote.

“We personally have not had any communication with community members who are (against the increase),” said Superintendent Diane Scheerhorn during her address to the board.

Member Bernadette Santana said she has been approached by people asking for a one-way pass, but district facilities Supervisor Steve Morales said he wanted to keep the plan “over simplified.”

At most, a student will be charged $100 to ride a bus one school year. A round-trip pass per semester costs $55 for one student. A discount is available for families with more than one student in the district.

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Students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch will receive a discounted or free pass.

A one-day pass is available for $1 and a replacement pass costs $2.

Morales said the district, which is joining other El Dorado County districts in charging bus fees, has relatively low fares.

“The most a kid will be charged is $100 a school year. We’re looking at 50 cents a day,” Morales said. “That’s pretty doggone cheap.”

In addition, the fees were instituted to avoid the reduction of bus stops or extending walking distances.

Purchasers can receive a 10 percent discount on the passes if they are bought before Aug. 23.

In other news:

n The board agreed on an “expectation document” for the next South Tahoe High School principal, who will be selected June 10. Among the expectations are being visibile on campus, being an educational leader and risk taker, including minorities and involving students and staff in decisions.

Lennie Schwartz, president of the board, said during a lunch at STHS on Tuesday, seniors said there is no sense of community at the high school. The community issue was second on the list.

n June 24 was designated as a meeting to educate the community on the district’s financial struggles, how schools are funded and how the district got to where it is. The meeting will set a foundation for a larger meeting in the fall to address the budget, alternative education, possibility of closing a school and other issues.

— E-mail William Ferchland at