On these 247 buses in Rockford's school district, a costly dilemma is emerging. With gas prices again hovering near $3 a gallon, the district is expected to suffer a deficit of $1.3 million this year in its transportation fund, transportation stretched out longer distances due to school choice.
"We're looking out here. We're seeing this problem, and I realize that being in Rockford for a while, there's strong feelings about it. But we're going to have to deal with it," Rockford Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson said.
But Thompson, speaking Sunday to parent-teacher groups, says the problem goes beyond the pump. At the end of the 2006-2007 school year, an annual $2 million family resources grant will expire. The grant funds 23 employees who fill out and handle school assignment requests, leading some parents to question whether Rockford is better with or without school choice.
But while parents might disagree on student choice, most agree a system of half-full buses on full tanks of expensive fuel must change.
The superintendent says school choice could be changed or modified in many ways. Thompson says while the decision lies with the school board, it's a decision which must be addressed soon.
The results from a massive survey you may have received a few months ago are in.
The survey answered questions about school choice and other district 205 issues.
The findings will be announced in the coming weeks.
Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson says there will be several public forums on school choice in the coming months.