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BOE panel to discuss cuts to school bus service

A Board of Education committee this morning will discuss which school bus routes should be prioritized and what bus services could be cut next school year.

The Department of Education is expecting a shortfall of about $20 million for student transportation in the 2012-13 school year, roughly half of what it spends on school bus services for general-education students statewide.

“We’re going to be short,” said Randy Moore, DOE assistant superintendent for facilities and support services. “The discussion today is what to do about it.”

The BOE Finance and Infrastructure Committee will likely defer any decision on changes to school bus service until the end of the legislative session when the department will know for certain how much of a shortfall it will have.

The committee’s recommendation will then go to the full board for a final vote, likely in May.

Moore said the department is looking at a host of possibilities for cutting costs, including instituting fares for low-income children who ride free. But Moore said those changes will not be enough to cover the shortfall, and services will almost certainly have to be cut.

He said the DOE wants to prioritize school bus service for students in Waianae and the Kau-Pahoa area of Hawaii island, followed by those in rural areas on neighbor islands.

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