Transportation of Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) students may have blossomed into a citywide issue, as the Irvine City Council agreed to help fund district bus service for Quail Hill and Los Olivos students of University High School.
The action came at the urging of parents in the Quail Hill area, which is remote from the high school, and requires driving a circuitous route in morning or afternoon traffic — roughly 25 to 30 minutes each way.
Several parents testified that the need to drive their kids to and from school was holding them back from getting full-time employment. Others pointed out that bus service would help the environment by eliminating scores of car trips each day.
The school district had offered to start bus service this coming semester if the parents could raise $75,000 to underwrite its cost. The parents asked the Council to fund $50,000 of that, with affected families chipping in to raise the rest.
At the request of Mayor Farrah Khan and Councilmember Larry Agran, the Council took up the matter at its August 8th meeting.
City Manager Oliver Chi reported that the school district was leery of City involvement in the issue and asked that the Council defer action. “Their preference is that we let the school district handle this,” Chi said of his discussions with school district staff.
Parents in attendance pleaded with the Council to fund their request and get a bus running this semester. “Don’t kick this back to IUSD,” implored Miriam Chapman. “We know their answer. It’s NO!”
Councilmember Agran agreed with the parents, urging the adoption of a motion to immediately move ahead and provide up to $55,000 for the bus service. The motion passed 5-0.
Councilmembers also said they’d like to see a fuller discussion of school transportation and the City’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. After the meeting, Agran said he thinks it would be “a good idea to include school transportation in the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan,” which is now being drafted by City staff.
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