After parents protested the decision to cut 20 bus routes for South Bay schools, the Sweetwater Union High School District has opened up one new route, but some students are still left without transportation, parents say.
The added route between Camino de La Plaza and Bibler Court will transport about 110 students chosen by a lottery system starting October 9. Families must pay less than $400 each year to use the new route; it is free to students who qualify for financial aid.
However, some parents told Telemundo 20 they weren't even eligible for the lottery because the route was not close enough to their homes. Others said they declined the transportation option because using MTS was cheaper.
The route was selected based on the distance and the number of students who were riding the route previously, SUHSD spokesperson Manny Rubio said.
The school district chose to eliminate bus routes for four schools in an effort to balance their budget. Routes were eliminated for Eastlake High School, Olympian High School, Otay Ranch High School and San Ysidro High School. Ten more routes were cut from other schools in the district.
The move outraged parents who said without the mode of transportation, many students would have to walk several miles to and from school.
"Since we don't have a car, I use transportation, and if one [person] is late, everyone is late," said the family's mother, Bertha Chaote.
District officials said the choice was made after the completion of a safe sidewalk on Old Otay Mesa Road, which serves as the main path to San Ysidro High.
But after the outrage from parents, they asked for a few weeks to analyze bus use for this school year and came up with the plan to instate the new route.
Officials with the Sweetwater Union High School District have made other controversial moves in order to climb out of its millions of dollars’ worth of debt.
Earlier this month, officials announced there were not enough working laptops for its students after it did not collect more than $600,000 in fees. The district also decided in recent months to eliminate 82 positions, including bus drivers, custodians and people who help with Special Education.