Cutting school bus service picks up speed in senate - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Cutting school bus service picks up speed in senate

A mural at Aiea Elementary School A mural at Aiea Elementary School
Kate O'Malley Kate O'Malley
Randy Moore Randy Moore
Ken LeVasseur Ken LeVasseur

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Drastic times have called for drastic measures and one of the proposals to cut is school bus service for all except special needs students.

Aiea Elementary School is one of the biggest proponents of school buses.  More than 250 students or 80 percent of the school use the service.  It's even got a school bus on the mural.

"We enjoy having the school bus, it really does help," said Kate O'Malley, Aiea Elementary School Principal.

Many of the kids take it to and from public housing.  If school bus service was cut more students would have to walk over a footbridge crossing Kamehameha Highway and Moanalua Road.  It's a walk that could be unsafe for young students.

"Then you get into philosophical discussions of is it the school systems responsibility to get students to school or is it parental responsibility that doesn't have an answer there are a variety of perspectives," said Randy Moore, Assistant Superintendent.

Safety aside bus drivers say get used to seeing more traffic and congestion without school buses.

"Think about beat the school jam. In one day traffic goes from mild to congested and that's with only public schools opening up.  You have a lot of parents taking kids to school because of emotional issues or whatever so that's the most congested day you're going to get, and that is what it would be like without school busses," said Ken LeVasseur, Bus Driver and Researcher.

Already there are no school buses in metropolitan Honolulu from Kalihi to Hawaii Kai.  Or for students who live within a mile and a half from their school.  Still the service costs the state $72 million each year to serve a quarter of the students.

Right now the Department of Education is looking to cut $55 million dollars from its budget each of the next two years.

"There are no answers that everyone will be happy with," said Moore.

If buses are stopped even Aiea Elementary is optimistic they could make it work.

"I don't think doomsday at all. I think we'd all have to work together for the safety part but that's not something we'd shirk away from," said O'Malley.

To read the Department of Education's testimony on this issue and other cost cutting scenarios click here.

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