Bus Savings

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The plan is to save money. But it could take a few years before school zones improve bussing in the Rockford School District.

"I'm anticipating 5-7 buses for next year just right off the bat with with 6th graders and the 9th graders put in but we have a lot of grandfathered students that are gonna come from the outside area," says Gregg Wilson, Transportation Director for the Rockford School District.

Students can stay in the school they currenlty attend or they can switch to their zoned school to ride the same bus as a younger sibling. But younger siblings can't switch into an older sibling's school if that's not the one assigned in the plan. Wilson says this will help eventually cut nearly 60 buses from the fleet of 280.

Right now two million dollars are spent per year on fuel, 560-thousand dollars for parts and supplies and 76-thousand dollars for tires. So by eliminating unnecessary routes, the school district could start saving elsewhere.

"We have a 14 million dollar deficit in that fund right now the key is to get that money for the deficit brought back to zero and then we can really talk about what we're gonna do with the money," says school board member Christina Ostergard.

Ostergard says there's talk of adding more schools onto the city's northeast side, which will help with the evergrowing problem of overcrowding.

District leaders say it's hard to tell how much money will be saved since a zone plan for the elementary schools hasn't been worked out. But initial projections were between two and three million dollars. The district's true savings won't be discovered until this summer, when the administration is expected to have all zones mapped out.