Hoover bus service cuts impact drivers - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Hoover bus service cuts impact drivers

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Hoover school leaders are preparing to talk budgets again. Declining revenues forced the system to cut bus services to save money. Bus drivers say the wildly unpopular decision could affect safety as well as jobs. Cutting bus routes would save the schools an additional $2 1/2 million.

"The hard part is, the bus drivers enjoy the kids we have on the bus and provide that safe service for them to go back and forth to school," Jeff Corley, a Hoover bus driver said.

Jeff Corley has been driving a Hoover bus for over a year. In that time, he says it's become more than just a bus route. 

"I like getting involved with those kid's lives, talk to them, develop a relationship where - during the time on the bus, if there is a way I can make a difference in their week or their lives, I can have an impact on what they do," Corley said.

"This was an opportunity to give back to the community and take care of the kids," Doug Hildreth, a Hoover driver said. "The bus drivers had treated my kids well and I thought it would be a good job to have."

A Hoover driver for 7 years, Doug Hildreth says, his biggest concern is the increased traffic that will be created when buses no longer make runs.

"It's a lot of traffic and to add that many more cars, it would take a long time to get to school and a long time home," Hildreth said.

"They say it's about 36 cars added for every car you take off so it's going to be 900 cars put to the streets," Corley said.

Hoover City Schools Spokesman Jason Gaston tells us, it comes down to finances. The cost to run the bus services is one of their high expenses. Revenue dropped $18 million since 2008, but the number of students has increased. While the school system has been able to reduce spending in areas like instructional costs and debt service, it simply hasn't been enough and cuts must be made. 
"Like many systems across the state, we continue to have funding sources that are in a state of volatility," Gaston said. "For government entities such as ours to remain fiscally sound, tough choices have to be made."

Bus drivers tell us, their focus now is what happens next school year. 

"Whatever God has in plan for me, if He closes one door, He opens up another door," Corley said.

Hoover schools say it plans to retain some of the drivers in order to continue bus services for special needs students. Tomorrow night is the first of two public budget hearings, the second will be on Tuesday. 



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