Lawmakers upset over school bus cuts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lawmakers upset over school bus cuts

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Department of Education now says 2,044 public school students won't have a bus to catch when the school year starts July 30. That's 336 fewer than what the department announced on Saturday.

"It was a lot of work on the part of the staff and the schools to try to minimize the impact on students. The board was very insistent that we try to maximize the amount of service that we could retain," Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Board of Education was criticized by state lawmakers for not communicating the cuts clearly.

"We will do better in the future," chairman Don Horner said.

Lawmakers urged more routes be saved, mostly over safety concerns for kids who'll have to find their own way.

"Aiea Heights Drive to Alvah Scott is three miles of treacherous, dangerous, winding and steep roads without sidewalks," Rep. K. Mark Takai said.

"You will have students having to cross Farrington Highway, a major artery through Kapolei and Kapolei Parkway, two of our most busiest roads. You would expect elementary school students, who could possibly be unsupervised, to have to walk and bike to school. That's just unreasonable," Rep. Sharon Har said.

Under the DOE's current plan, 91 busses will be eliminated through consolidation and cutting. The department is tackling a $17 million dollar shortfall for student transportation costs for the coming school year.

State Rep. Heather Giugni worries the bus cuts will cause some kids to cut school.

"I think that's a fact. I think in some areas they won't go to school. You never cut education. transportation, getting to school," she said.

The DOE offered a reprieve to students at multi-track schools affected by the bus changes. Their school semester starts on Monday. Bus service will continue through the end of the month.

As for the safety issue, Matayoshi said many students who don't ride the bus cross a variety of streets.

"But we always are concerned about the safety of kids. So we're going to take a look at all of the comments that were made today," Matayoshi said.

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