Mount Horeb parents surprised by new $200 bus fee

Mount Horeb parents said they were surprised to learn they’d need to pay a fee so their kids could keep riding the school bus.

The $200 fee is new for the 2013-2014 school year. It applies to parents of middle and high school students who live within two miles of their schools, which includes most of the village.

“I thought it was a little steep,” said Jon Taves, a parent who must pay. “I don’t mind having to pay for services like that, I just like to budget for that sort of thing.”

Taves, who said he moved his two kids to Mount Horeb five years ago because of the high-quality schools, said he and some other parents only found out about the fee through a district email sent Tuesday.

Superintendent Deb Klein said the school board actually made the decision in January in response to rising gas prices.

“I think there was an article in our local newspaper, but I don’t think that people really realized the impact it would have until now that we’re giving out more information and it’s time for school to start,” Klein said.

Klein said the move puts the district in line with other local schools, which require families who live close to the school to pay bus fees.

State law requires districts provide transportation to students who live more than two miles from school or in areas where it’s too dangerous to walk.

The Mount Horeb fee won’t apply to parents of kids in kindergarten through fifth grade, families who qualify for free or reduced lunch, or those who live more than two miles from school.

For parents who can’t pay by registration day in mid-August, the district has set up a payment plan, Klein said.

Mount Horeb parents surprised by new $200 bus fee

“I think districts have made choices whether to not transport at all or to charge for those students that they don’t have to,” she said.

Although he said he’s able to pay the fee, Taves said he’s not sure his kids ride the bus enough to get their money’s worth.

“Especially if my kids aren’t going to use the services in the fall and in the late spring — if they’re only going to utilize it in the wintertime — I don’t understand why I have to pay this fee,” he said.