Parents Seek Answers for School Commute Nightmare

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ELK GROVE --

JJ Dizon and his family only live a mile from Franklin Elementary School, where his kids go.

But what should appear to be a short and simple commute to class is not what it seems.

"Anywhere from 30-35 minutes twice a day," says Dizon.

The reason doesn't start with all the cars that flood Frankln Blvd., however. It's what's rarely seen on the road -- school buses.

Ten years ago the Elk Grove School District stopped the majority of its traditional bus service, only picking up students with special needs and charging a fee for those who live in rural areas.

"We wanted to keep that (transportation fund) in the classroom," says Transportation Director Jill Gayaldo.

The move has been saving the district $3 million a year ever since.

So where's all the money the district once had?

That answer lies in a very outdated law.

California school districts receive its transportation funds from the state based on numbers from the early 1980's. Meaning today, districts like Elk Grove that are far bigger than they once were are extremely under funded while other, now smaller districts receive far more money than they need for transportation purposes.

"Some school districts are currently receiving 200% of their transportation budget," says state Senator Marty Block, a democrat from San Diego.

Block has introduced SB 191, with hopes of changing the funding system.

Under the bill, all districts would get 50% of its "bus budget."

"We would like to fund it 100% but we just don't have the money," Block says.

If enacted, districts like Elk Grove would get more money and districts now smaller than they were in the 80's would get less.

In the meantime parents like Dizon are looking for a more immediate solution.

"Maybe the parents need to get together and figure this out. 30 minutes twice a day is far too long," said Dizon.