California's largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, announced today it will file suit to block the state from eliminating $248 million in school bus funding.
Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement that his district is under a 1981 court order to run buses for 35,000 students in the wake of a desegregation case. The district must also provide transportation for 13,000 students with disabilities under state and federal laws.
Gov. Jerry Brown announced the bus cut as part of a $980 million package of cuts that triggered into effect once fiscal officials determined the state would fall $2.2 billion short in revenues this year. The governor acknowledged that K-12 districts are still required to bus some students but suggested they could still pay for buses by cutting elsewhere.
"Any school district that wants to spend on home transportation can do that," Brown said. "They have their funds, and this is local flexibility to make whatever decision they want. So you can view this as a cut to the overall school system."
"That $250 million can be backfilled by cutting elsewhere in the schools," Brown added. "Which by the way if we weren't able to cut in transportation, we'd have to cut somewhere else as well. And there are no happy alternatives to making those cuts."
But Deasy said that taking funds out of the classroom to pay for court-mandated busing would leave less money per pupil in Los Angeles Unified than in districts that aren't required to transport their students. He suggested that such a consequence was unconstitutional because the state is required to provide equal educational opportunities to students across California.
It marks the second lawsuit related to one of the budget trigger cuts. Advocates for people with disabilities won a temporary reprieve this month from In-Home Supportive Services reductions. A hearing in that case is expected next month.