West Grand schools eye restricting parental mileage reimbursements
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, CO Colorado
In tough budget times, long-standing practices that never got a second glance in better years are attracting attention.
One such situation in the West Grand School District is the parent mileage program, which pays parents in rural areas for every mile they drive to and from the bus stop to drop off a student.
This year, the school district will pay out almost $30,000 in mileage to parents. A total of 14 families qualified for the program this year by residing more than a mile from the bus stop. Three families will receive $4,000-$5,000 this year in reimbursements. Many other families will be reimbursed less than $1,000.
The state reimburses the district for about 60 percent of the parent mileage expense, according to superintendent Kevin Chalfant, but it’s still a place that the board is going to look when it makes cuts for the upcoming school year as it looks to reduce its budget by $300,000-$400,000.
Chalfant said his major concern with eliminating the program entirely is losing students along with their $7,000 per pupil funding. If a family with three kids decided it wasn’t worth it to drive the students without the reimbursement – choosing instead to home school or travel to a different school district – West Grand could lose $21,000 just to save $5,000.
One option proposed by the District Accountability Committee (DAC) is to increase the perimeter to qualify for the reimbursement to five miles.
DAC also recommends that the board require more accountability from parents taking the reimbursement. As it stands, qualifying parents are given the reimbursement whether or not their student actually rides the bus. Many parents drive their kids to school on their way to work, Chalfant said.
DAC is suggesting that the board adopt a policy that would require students to ride the bus 50 percent of the time to receive mileage compensation. Parents would be responsible for documenting when their child rides the bus and having it signed off by bus drivers on a monthly or quarterly basis. These forms would need to be turned in before receiving reimbursement.
The board will continue to discuss the parent mileage reimbursement policy as it finalizes its budget in the coming month.
“I am hoping we can find a compromise that works for everyone,” Chalfant said.
– Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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