Parents in Hoover want answers from the school board, and from the city. If there are ways to save the school bus system they want to hear about it sooner rather than later. Apparently there are other ideas being considered. But those ideas aren't being floated.
Board member Stephen Presley says even he doesn't know much about the details concerning other options for the bus system. He says two options he has heard of came from superintendent Andy Craig at last night's public hearing. And, just like the parents, he is looking forward to hearing more about the details.
"I know that there has been a lot of concern about the lack of transportation. And I'm just excited to hear what Mr. Craig has to present to us about the options that will help alleviate some of the concerns that the parents and stakeholders have expressed to us," said Presley.
Presley says there are two options in particular that he's expecting to be brought to the table.
"Direct to parent situation where a third party service would work directly with the parent to provide transportation," said Presley.
"Some conversation that he's having with the state department to see what would be allowed for us to be able to charge on a fee based system with the existing buses that we have," he said.
School leaders said the decision to cut bus services next fall would save 2.5 million dollars. Even with that savings, the system's proposed budget for the 2014 fiscal year includes $17 million in deficit spending.
Then there's this. A suggestion by Hoover city councilman Gene Smith that an increase in property taxes might be needed to help the school system. Hoover mayor Gary Ivey says the school board would need a lot more than that.
"They're facing a seventeen million dollar deficit. And the property tax, if you cap it out, won't impact but three million dollars," said Ivey.
Ivey says the school system is an important component to Hoover. But so are other public services.
"We've got to keep the road ways, the police department, the fire department, the library, the park and rec, great public safety. And all of those have to be funded," said Ivey.
To have a property tax increase, a vote of the people would have to be authorized. Ivey says there are no plans to make that happen.
"Absolutely not. Not only is this a vote of the people, the legislature would have to approve it. So, at least my office is not looking at it at all," said Ivey.
Ivey says he and the superintendent have been talking. He says he believes cutting the buses before looking at the deficit was premature. But Ivey says the people are going to have to trust that school board members will make the right decision.
Stephens says he's heard through a lot of the forum meetings they've had that many parents are willing to pay for bus services. However, many parents who have spoken with ABC 33/40 said they're willing to endure cuts in other areas so they can keep the buses.