The Falcon School District 49 board could vote Thursday to eliminate its transportation department and busing to save money and then ask the community to come up with a solution.

If the proposed measure is approved, busing in the sprawling district on the east side of Colorado Springs could be eliminated beginning in fall 2011.

“We can’t fund the current transportation model for next year,” said board president Dave Martin.

Tackling the issue now gives the district time to find solutions and have them in place before the next school year, Martin said Wednesday.

The board meeting agenda posted Monday did not mention terminating transportation services. Bus drivers took it upon themselves to inform students and families, in some cases sending home flyers.

A revised agenda included the transportation item, and said “This is just one of several departments within the district that will be considered for elimination, downsizing or outsourcing.” Information with the agenda said the board had discussed transportation issues at a Dec. 15 retreat.

The community could come together and offer solutions to the lack of funding by putting a mill levy on the ballot to pay for transportation, Martin said.

The district spends about $3.6 million a year on regular bus service, Martin said, with the state chipping in $600,000 because of special education mandates.

That’s money out of the classroom, Martin said.

The district will seek bids to see if the service can be provided at lower cost. The D-49 transportation department may submit proposals, such as charging rider fees, that would reduce the financial burden on the district.

School funding is an ongoing challenge, especially with more state cuts expected.
Martin said Superintendent Bradley Schoeppey told his staff recently that everything is on the table in terms of potential cuts.

The district transportation director did not return phone calls.

Contact the writer at 636-0162.