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School Bus Service Eliminated For LEUSD Kids

In a unanimous vote during Thursday's regularly scheduled meeting, LEUSD board members eliminated the home-to-school transportation program for students.

for an update on a scheduled meeting.

Yellow school buses will not be transporting kids to class next year in the Lake Elsinore Unified School District unless Sacramento loosens the purse strings, according to district officials.

In a unanimous vote, LEUSD board members eliminated the home-to-school transportation program for students. Board member Jeanie Corral was absent.

The vote came during the regularly scheduled board meeting that saw dozens of LEUSD bus drivers, driver trainers and concerned parents turn out to oppose the program’s elimination.

Citing concerns over student safety, a handful of school bus supporters addressed the board with their public comments.

Lake Elsinore resident Salvador Sepulveda said he has a young grandchild in the district who is reliant on bussing. Walking to school is not an option for the child, who will be a first-grader next year, he said.

“There are enough crosses on the side of the road. We don’t need more,” he said.

Sepulveda also expressed concern about predators, and pointed to

“There’s too much temptation,” he said.

Marta Munson works as a trainer to school bus drivers in the district. Speaking at Thursday night’s meeting, she said job cuts are troublesome, but student safety is more important.

“I am more concerned about the kids,” she said.

The school bus supporters argued that conditions make a trek to school on foot or on bicycle too dangerous for some children in the 140-square-mile district. They said LEUSD boundaries are far-reaching into unincorporated rural areas that stretch west up along the Ortega Highway and north into Temescal Canyon. Additionally, they pointed out that the busy 15 Freeway runs through the district, as does the winding Ortega Highway.

The bus supporters also urged the board to consider the ramifications of added traffic that would be created around school campuses during student drop-off and pickup times. They contend that parents who can drive their children to school will do so if there is no bus service.

LEUSD Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations Greg Bowers oversees the district’s transportation program and said his recommendation to eliminate busing has kept him awake at night.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I bring this recommendation forward,” Bowers told the board. He said Governor Jerry Brown’s recent budget proposal has forced the district to make the painful decision.

“We’ve been cut to the bone, and now it’s the marrow,” he said during a break in Thursday’s meeting. “We are at our wit’s end.”

Under the governor’s most recent proposal, the district is losing its annual state funding for both the home-to-school and special needs transportation programs. Transportation costs for both programs total $5,891,552 for the 2011-12 school year, according to district figures. At the beginning of the 2011-12 school year, state funding for both programs totaled $2,096,717, district staff reported.

Under state law, the district is required to provide busing for its special needs students. District staff pegs that cost at $2.5 million for the 2012-13 school year.

According to district figures, the total number of students currently being bussed is 4,467, including nine severe special needs students from Murrieta.

The district figures also show that 82 people work in transportation, including 67 bus drivers. The LEUSD has a total of 78 buses, with only 19 of them running on compressed natural gas, which is considered a cleaner fuel option. The rest of the aged fleet is powered by diesel or gasoline, which district staff said makes salvage value minimal.

Despite Thursday’s vote to cut the home-to-school transportation program, board member Stan Crippen said the district is seeking solutions to the crisis.

“I don’t think any of us are giving up,” he said.

Rick Morsch, a planning commissioner for the city of Lake Elsinore was on hand for Thursday’s meeting. He is scheduled to meet with district officials Friday to discuss the possibility of offsetting busing costs. He is proposing the district consider outfitting some or all of its buses with stop-arms that feature cameras. Morsch said the cameras could be used to snag motorists who violate traffic laws. Revenue generated from the fines could be used to offset the lost state funding, he said.

Morsch said he has contacted a manufacturer that is willing to lease the devices to the district at no charge. 

Nabbing violators with stop-arm cameras, however, would need to be enforceable under state law, and that question has not been clearly answered.

For now, the future of the yellow school bus in Lake Elsinore appears bleak.

“We are unable to find alternative solutions,” Bowers said. He, along with Kip Meyers, the district’s assistant superintendent of personnel services, told the board that the LEUSD transportation department rises above.

“They are a committed group who love kids,” Meyers said. “There’s not a better department in the county.”

Secrets of Safety February 14, 2012 at 11:17 PM
I agree ASCS (RET), Some people seem to think in small pictures. The problems faced by our communities are problems that affect everyone in our communities. Whether we like it or not, whatever happens in our communities has an effect on everyone in the community whether it be a big or small impact, there is an impact. It may very well be a retired friend who reaches out and helps to get children to school. It may be just a neighbor who has the time to take the kids while the mother and father have to leave for work before or at the same time the kids have to go to school. As I said earlier, it is the SAFETY OF THE CHILDREN that should be the greatest concern. And the traffic situation can be a big problem. I have seen schools where a lot of parents pick up and drop off their children. The vehicles stop on side streets in front of people's homes and kids use the lawns as playgrounds on the way to school, some vehicles stop in the middle of the road and wait for their kids, blocking traffic. It can be a major issue.. To say that just because someone doesn't have kids it doesn't affect them and they shouldn't "sit back and criticize..." is looking at the situation from a very narrow point of view. The situation is a major problem that has to be dealt with locally, by members of the community, whether they have children or not.. That can be a major challenge in any society, let alone a society that has become so "self" or "me" oriented.
Secrets of Safety February 14, 2012 at 11:24 PM
My grandmother and I talked about situations like this 20 years ago. In fact, she was able to tell me this situation was going to happen just before the housing bust. She made note of the way things were going and said, "you watch, the economy is going to take a big turn for the worst soon". She also said "people in the younger generations don't know what it is to really struggle, and won't know what to do". She is still alive and is 95. She lived through the "great depression" and she always talks about how much people are spoiled in this country now. I guess she was right. Teaching children at home is an option, but not everyone has the freedom to do that. Many people have to have both parents working to survive. And since so many people have used the credit lifestyle for so long, they can't just stop working and have one parent at home.. Those are very tough situations.. Some people just can't make it with one parent working even if they have no debt. Have you seen the prices of rentals? How about the mortgage payments? Mortgage or rent plus a car, and then the cost of utilities, and can't forget the internet.. WE GOT PROBLEMS PEOPLE.. And yes... It is going to get worse.. However, that generation didn't know what it was like to go through as tough of times as that until it happened. The major difference between then and now is people weren't so self centered and self indulgent.
Diana February 14, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Everyone should start now contacting the County of Riverside for schools on Grand Ave and the City Council for schools within Lake Elsinore. Start now demanding that they provide sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, etc., for next year. For 8 years now Grand Avenue has had a "beautification project" sitting on the planners desk at the County of Riverside, to widen, install lights, and street lights and put a median down the road. The City of LE has had approval for sidewalks down Grand Ave and a street light on Grand and Riverside drive for over a year. Scream loud and hard and in numbers send them emails, storm the council meetings and write letters and maybe someone in one of these departments will consider safety for the children. I know when I screamed about school traffic on Machado, no crosswalks or schools signs they did come out and fix it and actually installed a stop sign and redid the lines on the road for a turn lane for the back of Lakeside High. It does wok but you have to be persistent I called and sent emails every week until I got results.
Secrets of Safety February 14, 2012 at 11:51 PM
I think you can guess what will happen to the "beautification" projects.. I think they were funded by the redevelopment departments that have recently been terminated. However, there are ways the county can improve the areas for the purpose of making adjustments for the safety of children getting to school. And I can assure you, Riverside County will not do anything that benefits everyone in the community unless the community stands up and demands it.
Diana February 15, 2012 at 12:07 AM
You are probably right, however they can find money out of no where to build more low income housing and revamp the campground suddenly when the threat of their RDA money being taken away. As far as the fall that you refer to, when this country actually does take the huge plunge and it is coming, the price of gas, utilities and so on will not be an issue because "no one" will be able to afford anything and it won't really matter. The way the American dollar is going and the pace the Government is selling us off we will be using the American dollar to start a fire to keep warm as they did I believe in the days of the great depression.
Secrets of Safety February 15, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Yes, Diana, You are right. If we don't make major changes in government this election, almost every legitimate professional who knows will tell you, we are headed for the worst our country has ever seen. That's why I encourage people to actually look at the record of the people they are going to vote for. We can't afford to sit back and believe what these people try to pass off as promises anymore. If they don't have a real plan, then they don't need to be in office. We need people who will make the tough decisions and make corrections in the way our government is doing things. There aren't many who are running who fall into that category. In fact, there is only one. The one who says (and has said all his career, and voted consistently the same). He is the one who has openly posted his plans for the United states, and he is the only one who has made public stands against what the government has been doing.. Of course, a lot of people still think doing the same thing is going to get a different result.. If those people get what they want, nobody is going to have what they want or need to live for a very long time. In fact, the face of this country will change drastically.. It's something to be worried about. It is now time to make changes before the changes make us.
Mary Ann Mealey February 15, 2012 at 06:48 PM
I just checked Riverside Transit District bus routes. They cover all of LEUSD. Great way to teach our children to use mass transit.
Mary Ann Mealey February 15, 2012 at 10:52 PM
I rode public transportation to school and to work all my life in California. What in the world are you talking about in the back of "those buses"..
Motherly Voice March 06, 2012 at 01:49 AM
I believe these are the same group who gets free lunch, free breakfast, and a break on all the testing fees.
LEResident March 06, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Understandable but what about the HS students that live in Horsethief that have to go to Temescal Canyon or Lakeland Village elementary students that have to walk down Grand Ave with no sidewalks next to rage drivers that have no patience!!!! How many more crosses are going to be added to that road? It is a little different from the 50-90's walking to school!!!
Diana March 06, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I contacted Riverside County regarding Grand ave, the traffic, lack of sidewalks and street lighting, their response to me is that they will do nothing to improve this area because of the economy. A couple of years ago they did have a Grand Ave Beautification Project on the books but they scraped it when the economy tanked. Also asked about Riverside Dr, pot holes etc, and Grand & Riverside Dr. for students walking from Lakeside High, these questions they directed me to Cal Trans and the City. I was also told that if we wanted street lights on Grand we could all contact Edison but we would have to pay for them out of our pocket. I love it when our elected Officials put our public safety at the top of their priority list, in a nut shell they don't care that the kids walk in the street, have no sidewalks or lighting. our tax dollars at work!!!!!!!!!!!!!
UNCLE FESTER March 07, 2012 at 06:01 AM
ok ill sum it up for those who just dont get it....the schools have been robbed of the bus service.. we got that...now the parents will HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO GET THE KIDS TO AND FROM SCHOOL WHEN FOR SOME, ITS TOO FAR TO DO IT ALONE....ESPECIALLY THE LITTLE ONES... now-- the fact of the matter is if YOU take "other" kids to school and are involved in an accident--YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THOSE KIDS. with the way things are, you can bet you'll likely get sued if one of them is hurt--your fault or not.. NOW, does that make it easier to understand my meaning ? i HAVE GONE WAY OUT OF MY WAY TO HELP OTHERS, and likely will continue to do so but, this is ridiculous ! our taxes, RSA fees ,the lotto , and where ever else they get funds, someone is SCREWING THE POOCH HERE... just the thought of removing the buses is absurd ! for all the "decision makers" involved with this one---YOU HAVE FAILED MISERABLY !!! please go hang yourselves and do it with a strong rope.. we (the beaten down, broke tax payers) dont have the means to send you an ambulance either... i cant wait to see the courts loaded with law suits over the soon to be hurt kids we will have to deal with because of your idiotic decisions....and thanks for making things just a little harder for those who dont need any more added drama in their lives... what a bunch if idiots... they should all be fired and replaced a box of crackers.... it obvious the cheese has slipped off of yours !!
Diana March 07, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Jam: I love your posts they are right to the point and make me laugh at the same time:)
LHJ March 07, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Hi Diana, The first and most disturbing fact you didn't take into account is... Politicians say a lot of things to get your vote and pass laws (age old practice). But when you watch what they do, it's easy to see.. Politicians do not care about your child's safety. If it were as dangerous out there for your children as politicians have shoved down our throats for the last few decades, wouldn't it make sense that they would be as concerned about your child's safety now as they were when passing expensive laws that sound good but lack in any substantial evidence supporting the logic and statements they make to get you to believe you need those laws? Wasn't it just a few months ago the politicians were saying "our children come first"? That isn't exactly true is it? At least not when it comes to the politicians actually doing their job. They have spent your money. They have what they need, your money in their pocket to live on. Now you actually expect something from them? Haven't you heard, they don't care about you or your children. And public safety (which is one of the "catch phrases" they use to get you to back their wasteful spending laws) is not on their list of things "to do". Some of us are not surprised about that. What is surprising is it surprises you. That's something you might want to consider the next time you have the opportunity to vote.
LHJ March 07, 2012 at 05:58 PM
jam, Your posts are humorous, and entertaining.. However, I'm amused more at your outrage. These things have been coming for a long time. A lot of people have tried to get parents to see it coming, but nobody seemed to care. When the Lottery was voted in, everyone was excited that the schools would get a much needed boost. Then the politicians showed what was really going on at the Capital. For every dollar that went into the schools from the Lottery, politicians removed dollar for dollar, money that was designated for the schools. It went on for decades, nobody said anything. Not one effort was launched to stop what politicians were doing.. And now you cry.. What a shame.. Now your kids suffer because nobody really cared until the politicians raped the school system until there was nothing to do but start taking away those things (like buses) and force parents to either put their children on the streets or take them to school themselves. And what is more amazing to me is these politicians have been voted back into office over and over again. If you aren't going to actually do something about it, why cry? If I believed what I read here, I would expect to see some major efforts under way to oust these politicians and replace them with civic minded people who have a priority list that puts education and child safety at the top. I don't see anything but a bunch of parents complaining that they can't do anything.
Diana March 07, 2012 at 06:04 PM
LBJ: I don't live under a rock nor did I just fall off of the pumpkin truck. I am more then aware of what goes on with politicians and the games they play. When I resided on Lakeshore across form the public beach I brought several "public safety" issues to City Hall regarding the public beach area and I had the chance to have Mayor Magee on my front porch to discuss these huge issues, results were none but he did put on a great dog and pony show of concern without anything changing on the beach. I simply was bringing to the Patch the results of my efforts to reach out to those responsible and see if there were per chance something positive in the works to upgrade our area to accommodate the increased population and traffic of LE & Grand Avenue. Unfortunately for all of us the positive that I heard a year ago for sidewalks on Riverside Dr (LE) for the students and the "beautification project" on Grand (county) are no longer in the plans, but thanks for the education.
LHJ March 07, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Hi Diana, I presume because your comment is right below mine you were talking to me. I'm not LBJ. Again, I'm surprised you actually thought they cared. And after you have had previous encounters with them which resulted in a big "ZERO". So, in the next election, I wonder how many of these politicians will be voted back in.. I can hope for a different outcome, but really don't expect it. I don't have much confidence in voters.. I have seen the same things go on for so many years. I vote to get these people out of office and they keep getting voted back in.. lol And we blame the politicians for the problems we have.. If we vote people into office who have a history of caring only for their pet projects and not the citizens and their children, I don't know how any of us can expect that they are going to change. Stop voting them back into office and if they want to represent us, they will change the way they do things by the next election.. Especially if we don't sit back and let them get away with lying to us and spending money on irrational practices and laws.. But to date, nothing has changed.. Everyone complains and then votes these people back into office.. Kinda like people in abusive relationships.. crazy world isn't it... (rhetorical)..
Diana March 07, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Every chance I get to vote, I vote in new meat but it doesn't seem to get us much change...........who would ever vote Jerry Brown back in.......what were they thinking!!! Actually the election results are so far out of the ball park it makes me wonder if they aren't corrupt like everything else surrounding politics.
LHJ March 07, 2012 at 07:59 PM
lol, I agree there.. I do not understand why voters would put someone back into office like that.. Of course, I don't understand why people in this country can look around the world and see the corruption, listen to our politicians talk about the corruption in other countries, knowing how much our politicians lie to us, and believe that our elections are honest. Nobody questions these things.. Or if they do, the media and our government step in and discredit those to raise the challenges.. One popular tactic used by other corrupt governments.. And with the arrogance our politicians exhibit toward citizens, I would tend to believe that they already know our vote really doesn't mean much.. However, I continue to vote with the hope that someday, it might actually be my vote that makes a difference.. maybe not, but if I don't vote... I can be assured it doesn't mean anything.. lol We can look at what is happening (right in front of us) in these "Republican" primaries.. The media is very actively attempting to skew things in the favor of those they prefer, influencing voters.. Who takes those surveys, and polls? Who really knows if any of what we are being told is true? In this election, they have "lost" entire precincts votes and ignored them for the outcome of some of the voting.. Nobody says anything.. What is really going on?
Roberto March 07, 2012 at 09:22 PM
LBJ said: "Nobody says anything.. What is really going on?" It's called the liberal agenda. This very sight is an example of how things are not objective a skewed in favour of liberals. Once a new givernment program or tax is implemented, it never goes away. We need half the givernment of today.
Diana March 07, 2012 at 11:10 PM
I hope everyone will be at the Culture Center tonight for our City Managers performance review, I know I will. 7PM
UNCLE FESTER March 08, 2012 at 04:07 AM
LHJ. im not crying here. I am making a statement. be it bitching or crying , you can pick. i do vote..never seems to matter anymore. the government picks who they really want.. i believe that each time the same idiots are returned to office when we- or most of us know- these idiots are the reason we're in the shape we're in. i knew the lotto was scam and it just got worse. like you said, it was SUPPOSED TO GO TO THE SCHOOLS" .that sure shut everyone up back then but, once it started, they had their dirty little mitts in the till.. "rob it till its dead and make the tax payers eat it....".. this just pisses me off.. i have been asked to leave counsel meeting because of my comments. i guess they dont like the truth when it hits them in the face. but i like it. it makes others think a little more about the crap they get away with. like when they couldnt pay to water or maintain parks. all crap ! now the state has come to the conclusion they or the "system" cant afford buses. ALL CRAP! what are they going to do ?IF ONE kid gets killed crossing a street because the parents had no other way to get their child to school ? some of them have no options, no money, and no cars. and in some cases, its way too dangerous for some of these little kids to be walking. sometimes in the dark and sometimes on roads with no lights or sidewalks. i like to amuse others while still making a relevant statement. im glad youre amused but, i am not crying. only trying to make sense of the stupidity.
Tonto March 08, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Ya think the thieving government cares more about lining their own pockets or taking care of the children?
LHJ March 08, 2012 at 04:39 AM
I will tell you what the government is going to do if a kid gets seriously injured or killed.. They are going to go after the parents for child endangerment.. Failure to protect.. and anything else they can think of.. That's what the government does.. They create situations where they can find more people, easier, to put in jail or prison. You think they are cutting back on what they spend on prison officers? Their union won't allow that. You want to know where your money has gone? Look at how much more the state pays to the prison industry now than they did 10 or 20 years ago.. They made decisions years ago to change direction in this state. That decision was a conscious decision to spend more on the industry we call prisons and less on our children, their schools and support for communities. And we all sat back and watched, allowing them to do exactly what they have done, bringing us to the point we are now.. Not much can be done about it. Our state has been on a perpetual cycle of passing more and more laws to make more things illegal, convictions easier and sentences longer. And I would be willing to bet, you were one who helped vote for a lot of that.. It sounded great didn't it? Lawmakers lied to the public, as they always do. They are still doing it. And it's going to keep happening.. the majority would rather believe the lies rather than look up the truth, and believe what they read.
Roberto March 08, 2012 at 06:02 AM
.Their are entire communities now depending on the revenue from prisons and the work they create. The powerful union for prison guards, communities hooked on the revenue and the so-called do gooders being used as pawns passing more laws will make sure we never find a way out of this mess
UNCLE FESTER March 08, 2012 at 05:06 PM
gotta love the system.... gotta love 'em to death.... thats what they're doing.. slowly but surely killing everyone off .. they hate competition. and when WE think for ourselves, they try their damnedest to kill it off too.. even when we're right, were wrong because they dont like it..... too much money going to places and people we dont need to get it....but thats too easy and they know it. you cant fix stupid and this is just another great example of that.. "lets take the buses away too !!" "tomorrow we'll can all the teachers and hire hire student aides.. that should leave us just enough for another vacation in the bahamas..." a couple of dead kids doesnt even matter i guess... wait til its a couple of dozen.... or more... this is only going to get uglier and the kids, ultimately, will be the cost of this little f*ck up...
Nico March 27, 2012 at 02:46 AM
I've got an idea instead of donating money to causes that will never amount to anything like kony 2012 let's donate to our schools... Just a thought
UNCLE FESTER March 28, 2012 at 01:21 AM
nico---that would entirely too easy to comprehend... but, a great idea non the less...
Joy May 04, 2012 at 04:46 AM
While I agree with the sentiment, I think people are taking offense at the tone... I DO believe it is a parent's responsibility to get their child to school, and not an obligation on the part of the district. I think it is great that busing has been provided until now, but in the current economic climate I understand that cuts need to be made. I'd rather see buses eliminated than teachers. For those parents who have work conflicts, many schools in the district offer before and after school programs to help give your kids a safe place to be, and make their schedules more convenient for parent drop-off/pick-up.
Jennifer July 11, 2012 at 08:32 PM
What about the parents that are not on welfare and work . True it would help with obesity but the world today has so many sick people who pray on children .

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