An updating of approved hazardous bus routes and a change to using the state’s pupil transportation guidelines means that about 300 Hinsdale–Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 students no longer will be eligible for free bus service to and from their elementary school.
The District 181 Board approved budget cuts in April that included about $250,000 by eliminating bus service for students whose walking route is more than 1 mile, but less than 1.5 miles, or contains a safety hazard.
The savings comes via the elimination of six or seven routes, starting with the 2018-19 school year, which no longer will be needed, said Mohsin Dada, the district’s chief financial officer & treasurer.
Although not required by the state, District 181 has been providing bus service to students who live more than 1 mile from their school, instead of 1.5 miles.
That change was expected to impact about 200 students, Dada said.
But the number of students who no longer will receive free bus service is expected to increase to about 300 after the board approved a consultant’s hazardous routes recommendations Monday and eliminated eight locations previously included.
Those locations are at various spots along Chicago Avenue and Madison Street as well as crossing County Line Road at 47th Street and at Camberley Court, near Hinsdale Central High School.
About 20 parents attended a May 31 meeting with district representatives at which two options for parent-paid bus service were discussed. Dada said parents could have the option to pay District 181 for available seats on existing routes, although opportunities likely will be limited.
“Most of our bus routes will start full at the beginning of the school year, and we won’t know until school starts if we have any openings,” Dada said.
He said the district is required by the state to keep seats available for all eligible students even if they rarely, or even never, ride the bus.
Another option is for parents at schools without existing bus routes to hire service.
Students at Madison, The Lane, Walker and Monroe, south of Ogden Avenue, have not had bus service.
Prospect and Oak schools no longer will have free bus service, as all of their students live within a mile of the schools, Dada said.
He said about 150 students in the Walker attendance area will continue to receive service to Clarendon Hills Middle School, because having to cross the railroad tracks in downtown Clarendon Hills to get to CHMS makes it a hazardous route. A similar number of students from The Lane attendance area will continue receiving bus service to Hinsdale Middle School.
“Really, for the elementary schools, Elm and Monroe, north of Ogden, are the only ones who will continue to receive free bus service,” Dada said.