Senate Bill 81 replaces the $248 million bus cut with an across-the-board reduction of roughly $42 per student that affects all K-12 districts. Under the previous plan, the isolated Death Valley Unified School District would have lost $1,734 per student, while Davis Joint Unified would have lost less than $8 per student, according to the California School Boards Association.
The state's coalition of education groups, including teachers, school boards and administrators, supported the change, as did lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The only opponents were charter schools and some suburban districts that stand to lose more under SB 81 than they did under the bus cut.
The bus reduction was triggered in December when fiscal forecasters determined California would fall $2.2 billion short of the optimistic revenue projections that Brown and lawmakers used last June.
Brown has proposed eliminating bus funding next school year and launching a new block grant for school districts that could pay for some of those costs. But lawmakers seem intent on trying to preserve earmarked school bus money next year.
PHOTO CREDIT: Marlee Redwolf-Rave, 14, left, and another student get off a school bus at Timbisha Shoshone Tribe Reservation in Death Valley on Jan. 10, 2012, after a long drive from Death Valley High school in Shoshone. (Irfan Khan/ Los Angeles Times.)