Keep buses, leaders told | ParkRecord.com

Keep buses, leaders told

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Without buses in the Park City area some high school students said they would not have rides to school. But the state could save about $15 million by eliminating some routes, state Sen. Chris Buttars said.

"To some people it’s a shock," the West Jordan Republican said Monday about the proposal.

His proposal would allow school districts to decide which bus routes to consolidate, Buttars explained.

"The school could pick which routes really aren’t productive," he said.

More than half of the kids eligible to ride do not take the bus to school in some districts, Buttars said.

"I think you’d find a lot of districts that have a lot of routes where the busing capacity is under 20 percent of use," Buttars said. "That becomes a very expensive bus."

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However, student Lizeth Garcia said she must ride the bus to Park City High School from her home at Kimball Junction.

"That’s going to be hard if they eliminate the bus," Garcia said Tuesday. "A lot of kids still ride the school bus."

Many students in the Park City area do not have cars, student Loren Crandall said.

"Some students couldn’t get to school because everybody doesn’t have their licenses," Crandall said Tuesday.

Student Mike Rossi said his parents leave for work too early for him to catch a ride.

"I wouldn’t ever be able to get to school," Rossi said after stepping off the bus at the high school on Tuesday.

"My parents are usually gone early in the morning," student Brandon Sanchez added.

The proposal to consolidate some bus routes could affect students who live closest to the school, said Lisa Kirchenheiter, a member of the Park City Board of Education.

However, buses aren’t needed in some areas of the Snyderville Basin, said student Lauren Eikenberry, who lives in Trailside.

"The kids in Summit Park, they need the buses," Eikenberry said. "Other people should just put forth some effort to get to school."

Student Kieran Nirula said he rides the bus to Park City High School every day.

"But my bus is not always full," Nirula said.

Accelerated graduation

Eliminating some bus routes is just one controversial proposal Buttars is pushing to help plug a roughly $700 million budget shortfall. But the senator has backed away from a suggestion he made to eliminate 12th grade.

Instead, he now wants to provide students with incentives to graduate early.

"There will be no pressure exerted on any student to change to accelerated graduation," Buttars told members of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee on Monday. "You talk to 100 kids and their parents, and I bet a majority of them will say, ‘My kid didn’t do much in the 12th grade.’"

Some students do slack off their senior year, Rossi said.

"A lot of people just hang out in the 12th grade," Rossi said.

Kids with enough credits should try to graduate early, Sanchez said.

"If they think students can cram it all in, then I think they should eliminate 12th grade," Sanchez said.

If half the students graduate before their senior year that state could save about $60 million, Buttars said.

"What you are offering is a choice to jump ahead," Buttars said.

The senator said he is drafting a bill that details his proposal.

"It might be that only 10 percent choose to take the accelerated graduation," Buttars said.

But students with enough required credits already have the option to graduate early.

"It formalizes that option and gives some incentive to those who might not have taken it," Buttars told state lawmakers.