Pre-K Busing Cuts

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Funding cuts to District 205's Early Education grant has trickled down to transportation, meaning fewer pre-school kids can ride the bus. It's a story you told us about on Facebook.

Four-and-a-half year old Jordyn Prado knows how to write her name and count to ten in English and Spanish. They're things she learned at her pre-school in Dixon last year, and when moving to Rockford in March. Jordyn was excited to go to pre-school again, so her mother signed her up in April and filled out a bus form.

"The week before school we had called Rockford Public Schools and asked them about busing and they said unfortunately there was going to be no busing for new students and they were sorry they hadn't already told me that," said parent Jack-Lynn Coleman.

Coleman already bought back to school clothes and now Jordyn is forced to stay home because she doesn't have a ride to pre-school.

"When the governor was doing his budget the early childhood block grant as a whole throughout the whole state, took an 8 percent cut,” explained Kim Nelson, Executive Director of Early Childhood.

This year 473 students ride that bus, a cut from 700 kids last year.

The District is offering one-way transportation so more kids can ride. "We've been able to add an additional 20 kids on the bus because of the one-way option," added Nelson.

They're also looking for more grants and keeping kids on a waiting list.

"She's not going to to deal with that. You know three weeks in, then all of a sudden oh yeah you're going to go ahead and start school I feel like that's unfair," said Coleman.

The district says it hopes to provide about 30 more seats this year, they'll wait to see if gas prices come down, or if any homeless kids come in. By law, they have to provide transportation for homeless students.

There's another issue here.. The mother wasn't told she wasn't getting busing until the week before school.. How are parents supposed to be notified?

To notify parents about busing changes, the district says when parents enroll their kids and fill out a bus form, employees are supposed to tell them. However, that is not guaranteed.

Coleman says nobody told her that, so she assumed she was getting it.


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