A week ago, I reported to you that the school board had voted to approve the staff recommendation to double the fee paid by parents for bus transportation to and from school each day.

The fees have not been raised in almost 20 years, which amounted to a recent annual bus program deficit of about $6 million dollars.

I reported it to you a week ago and the Daily Pilot reported it yesterday. I’m telling you this not because I want a medal but because it underscores what I have been describing about the sorry state of much of the mainstream media. Instead of going out and digging up news, the skeleton crew of a newspaper is now forced to let the news come to them. That is usually in the form of press releases that have more spin than a roulette wheel.

The case in point is the Daily Pilot’s story on the fee increase, which you can read here.

In the story, school board president Martha Fluor is quoted as saying, “We understand that it’s a significant increase, but in the best interest of the students, it was better than some of the other choices. It’s an opportunity to not take away money from student programs or supplies.”

So there you have it… Parents, don’t even think about complaining about the 100% increase in your bus fees. You should be grateful that the board didn’t put a halt to the Mandarin dual language program or some other extremely useful brainstorm.

Just so you know, the district is not strapped. It is once again operating in the black and even has money to hand out to top administrators who are already pulling down hefty salaries. This they did in July with an obscene money grab.

But money for teachers is scarce and so, it seems, is the money they’ve been using to subsidize the bus program for 20 years. The question I want to know is, “Why now?” Why after so many years subsidizing this loser of a program, did the staff and the board decide to put the hammer down on the parents of kids who ride the buses? And why double it? Why not phase it in over 2, 3, or 4 years? Oh, yeah, I forgot – they needed the money now because they have to pay the big legal bills they have for fighting the case of John Caldecott.

To read Fluor’s comment, you’d think that everything depended on this extra money. Just to provide some perspective, the windfall they may get will probably top out at about 1/3 of one percent of the overall budget.

But to Mrs. Garcia, a Westside parent who is already working two jobs trying to make ends meet, it’s a helluva lot more.

Are the staff and the board insensitive to the plight of these Westside parents? No, they can’t be because they don’t have a clue as to what life there is like.

Oh, and remember this: Next month, the board will rubber stamp yet another pay raise for the Superintendent. That will be his third in two years.

Hey, the money for the raise has to come from somewhere!

Steve Smith