January 19, 2005 at 4:22 AM EST - Updated July 11 at 9:20 AM
The Lakota West High School parking lot was a sea of headlights and exhaust smoke Tuesday morning. Missing from the scene, though, were school buses.
The Lakota School District says it had to make a tough decision, and staring at $7.2 million in budget cuts, it says canceling some bus routes is the best choice.
"By cutting busing, which is something parents can help us with, that allows us to keep more teachers in the classroom," Jon Weidlich, district spokesman says. "[It means] more resources for kids, which is something parents can't help us with."
The cuts effect 3,000 of the district's 17,000 students. It includes any students who live within a mile of their school, and every student in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. And all their parents.
"I think it's a tremendous burden for parents who work," Sonia Kousha, parent of two, says.
James Holliday's three children had always taken the bus home. Tuesday it took him more than an hour to pick them all up from two different schools.
"We pay enough money into this school system," James Robinson, parent of a high school student says. "There are other areas we can cut, other than cutting buses."
Robinson also accuses the district of manipulating kids and parents. After two tax levies were voted down last year, and another on the ballot for February, he believes the bus cut is being used as a scare tactic. "They're telling us directly, pass the levy or this is what you're going to have to do every morning," he says.
"I can understand people feeling that way, because this is really an inconvenience for parents, but the reality is that [the bus plan] was announced last February," Weidlich says.