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Poway schools cameoed today in a Los Angeles Times article about California school districts cutting back on bus service to balance budget cuts and steep gas prices:

In Poway Unified School District near San Diego, where parents pay $399 for an annual bus pass, several hazardous conditions that once qualified students for bus service — among them living near a busy intersection or lacking a safe path or sidewalk to school — no longer are considered. In addition, only routes that draw at least 50 paying riders will operate. The change leaves as many as 1,600 students of all ages without rides.

“It’s gotten to the point where we could not continue to do what we have historically done,” said Tim Purvis, the district’s director of transportation, who budgeted $700,000 for fuel last school year and ended up spending $1.1 million. “I have 26 years of experience in this business, and I’ve never seen such an erratic year for fuel increases.”

In response, private shuttle companies are offering to ferry students to school — for $400 a month. Purvis predicted that most of the students without bus service would be driven to school in family cars or neighborhood car pools. “School loading/unloading zones are going to be a mess,” he said.

EMILY ALPERT

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