By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY — Laura Felderman is “absolutely relieved.”
A mother of two sons who ride the bus to Regina Catholic Education Center, she’s grateful for approval of a contract May 25 that ensures the PreK-12 school will receive state reimbursement to help pay for providing student transportation. Regina’s School Board and the Iowa City School Board each approved the agreement, and Regina will now arrange its own bus service for next school year.
“The significance of this (contract) is huge because it gives us the funding to be able to provide buses for our families,” said Carol Trueg, Regina’s president.
The future of bus service to the school had become unclear after the Iowa City School Board voted Dec. 10 to stop providing transportation for Regina at this academic year’s end. The measure sought to cut costs for the Iowa City Community School District, which currently spends about $260,000 to provide 11 buses for Regina.
The district had the option to give the money it receives as reimbursement from the state —about $173,000 this year — to Regina families to provide their own transportation or to the school itself.
The contract calls for Regina to be reimbursed for either the district’s average transportation cost per student or Regina’s cost per student — whichever is less. Regina will use the funds to contract for its own bus service.
“We anticipate the busing will be very similar to what parents are used to,” Trueg said. But the school plans to reduce the number of buses used to about eight. “We need to make this as efficient as possible. We can’t afford not to.”
Trueg said parents of 265 students have indicated they want their children to ride the bus next year, but more than 500 students are eligible. By Iowa law, elementary students who live two miles from school and high school students who live three miles away qualify for ridership.
The number of students likely to take the bus next year is similar to this year’s number, Trueg said.
To help cover transportation costs not covered by state reimbursement, Regina asked parents to pay $50 for each of their students who will ride the bus.
The school has asked two transportation providers for bids, Trueg said.
Whoever ends up providing busing, parents said they’re glad to know the service will be available. Felderman said finding alternate transportation for her seventh-grader and fifth-grader would have been challenging, unpredictable and disruptive to her and her husband’s jobs. Knowing there will be a reliable bus system is comforting, she said.
Nancy Bonthius, mother of two students who ride the bus to Regina, said she was “very happy” to see the contract between the school and district finalized. Her family “could’ve managed without the bus, but it sure makes it easier to have it.”
Bonthius said she was mainly concerned that busing would be available for families living relatively far from Regina, such as in North Liberty.
She and Felderman voiced thanks for school leaders’ work to secure bus service. “I really appreciate how much the Regina community and administrators fought to get this through,” Bonthius said.