Upset parents petition to save school bus service - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Upset parents petition to save school bus service

Jason Starkey Jason Starkey
Kai Augustine Kai Augustine
Breene Harimoto Breene Harimoto

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

MILILANI (HawaiiNewsNow) - No money, no school buses, unless the state coughs up the funding.

40,000 Hawaii students will have to find new ways to get to school next Spring.

That possibility has worried parents pressuring the school board.

Petitions to save school buses were sent to students' homes on Tuesday. Upset parents say having no service could put children in danger.

The Augustine-Starkey family relies on the school bus to take Kai Augustine from their home in Mililani Town to his school in Mililani Mauka.

"Why are they cancelling it for? They did so much cuts already with the furloughs and everything, why are they cutting the buses now?" said Jason Starkey, Kai's stepdad.

Next March, or once funds run out, school buses across the state could be out of service. That would put Kai's parents in a bind. Their work schedules conflict with Kai's school schedule.

From Kai's house to Mililani Middle School is about 3.5 miles. If Kai were to walk, according to a Walk Time Calculator found online, it would take him an hour and 12 minutes.

"Pretty junk, because I'm going to be late everyday," said Augustine.

"That is unsafe already because you have to cross the H-2 and go up and coming out on Mauka in the morning is hectic. There's a lot of traffic," said Starkey.

Also, beginning January 1st, there will be no more bus service for students living within 1.5 miles from their school. This, after the Board of Education voted against asking the Legislature for the $12 million in emergency funds needed to keep school buses running.

Board Member Breene Harimoto says he wants bus contractors to justify their rising costs first, before asking the state for more money to pay them.

"We know that gas costs have gone up, we know that personnel costs have gone up, but to the extent that the bus contracts have escalated? No," said Harimoto.

A petition is now circulating to make sure the 40,000 students who depend on school buses, aren't scrambling to find a ride.

"That's just ridiculous. They cut so much out of the budget already, it's about time they dip into the rainy day fund, because it's raining," said Starkey.

The Hawaii School Bus Association is spearheading the petition. Signatures will be submitted to Governor Lingle and other lawmakers involved with education decisions.

Powered by Frankly