- Associated Press - Monday, February 8, 2016

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Community members say they have mixed reactions to the Iowa City Community School Board’s decision to eliminate a free busing service.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen (http://icp-c.com/1TOj6FY ) reports that the school board’s Jan. 26 decision means that nine elementary schools will lose discretionary busing services that serve nearly 1,000 students. The changes will take effect in the fall, at the beginning of the new school year.

Parents and school leaders say they understand the board’s decision will save money for classroom-related expenses, such as reducing class sizes.

School board President Chris Lynch said the decision will save about $400,000 annually.

“It’s really putting our resources where we’ll get the biggest benefit,” Lynch said.

But parents and school leaders also say they’re worried about safe walking routes and families facing inconveniences.

“My biggest concern was that safety was not taken into account when they decided to cut discretionary busing,” said Ginny Driscoll, a parent with children at Coralville Central Elementary School.

Valerie Hoffman, president of Penn Elementary School’s parent-teacher organization, said she hopes the community comes together to find alternative transportation, such as carpools or walking groups with an adult leader. She said Penn’s parent-teacher group will likely provide online discussion forums to start conversation about these options.

Lynch said the board will continue to hear appeals from families that oppose a lack of busing to their neighborhoods.

The board seeks to maintain free and pay-to-ride routes at nine elementary schools where families face transportation barriers. Two of these elementary schools include those where free bus routes will be discontinued.

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Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, http://www.press-citizen.com/

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