Only 30 Maui students will lose public school bus service, a far cry from the 4,700 Maui County students who could have lost their bus rides as state Department of Education officials in April laid out preliminary plans to deal with a transportation budget shortfall.
In information released Saturday, the DOE said that the Baldwin Complex in Central Maui will see several cuts in service next school year. There will be no bus service for students from Iao Valley and Wailuku Heights who will be attending Wailuku Elementary, Iao Intermediate and Baldwin High schools in August.
According to the DOE, the cuts affect 10 elementary; six intermediate and 14 high school students.
Baldwin High School students walk to waiting school buses after school in early April. Only 30 Maui students — those from Iao Valley and Wailuku Heights — will be affected by public school cutbacks in school bus service.
The Maui News file photo
Molokai's bus service will continue as is. Lanai doesn't have school bus service. Special needs students are not affected.
"That was such a hard decision . . ." said Baldwin-Kekaulike-Maui Complex Area Superintendent Bruce Anderson as he reflected on the process. "We tried to make it the least painful as possible. We know people count on the bus services."
He said that DOE officials consolidated bus routes and analyzed which routes would be the "least disruptive" if cut. DOE officials did not want to cut service to remote areas and looked at affecting the least amount of students, he added.
On Monday, Anderson said that he was going to speak to principals from the three schools affected to see how they could reach out to the affected students' families.
Across the state, 2,380 students lost their bus rides. Maui County was the least affected, followed by the Big Island at 96 students and Kauai with 104 students. On Oahu 2,150 public school students will no longer have school bus service this school year.
The DOE started to make plans for a budget shortfall in the bus program in spring as the state Legislature looked to approve only about half of the $42 million the DOE had requested. If only $20 million had been appropriated for regular bus service, the DOE estimated that 4,700 Maui County students would have lost service, with the first cuts coming at most Central Maui schools.
Instead, the Legislature appropriated $25 million to the student transportation program.
An additional $10.2 million will come from federal funds and money released back to DOE from spending restrictions last fiscal year which were imposed by the governor on all state agencies, DOE officials said.
The Board of Education last month approved an increase to the program to $36.7 million with an additional $1.5 million to come from an unanticipated receipt of federal impact aid funds.
Anderson said parents whose children are affected by the bus service cuts may call the Maui District Office for more information at 984-8000. For more information on the bus routes being discontinued, see the website hawaiidoe.org.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.