OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Students in Oakland on Wednesday were speaking out about an AC Transit plan that could cut bus routes they use to get to their schools in the Oakland hills.
The transit agency is saying the reduction in service isn’t their fault, while the Oakland Unified School District claims they simply don’t have the money to cover the buses.
“For my family, we have three kids at three different schools. It’s going to be insane, said Maxwell Stern an 8th grader at Montera Middle School. “And for most families, they don’t even live close enough so a lot of kids aren’t going to be able to attend the schools they want to and essentially be forced to the neighborhood schools that don’t offer the academic rigor that they need.”
“I hope that I can be a good spokesperson for all those people that live in the flatter areas of Oakland who really rely on the bus,” said Montera 7th grader Grace Gulli.
Wednesday night, AC Transit is having a board meeting to discuss whether they’ll keep providing services to kids who attend Montera Middle School, Skyline High School and Community Day School. The bus line serves about 1,600 out of 2,500 students each day.
In the lobby of the Montera Middle School, some parents have put out a letter to AC Transit and they’re encouraging other people to sign it, explaining that their students already pay to use the bus.
If this specific route goes away, there are other buses that stop near the schools, but not right in front of them.
“We’re in the business of education; AC Transit is in the business of transportation,” said OUSD spokesperson John Sasaki.
Sasaki explained that a few years ago, the state changed how the district was funded. He said the bus problem is a result of dollars being redistributed.
“So there really is no money now for this process to cover AC Transit’s help with our students,” SAID Sasaki.
AC Transit argues that this is an issue of financial mismanagement within the school district.
The agency issued a statement, saying in part, “It [the OUSD] sees AC Transit as low-hanging fruit. They’re trying to balance their books at our expense.”
The statement went on to say, “AC Transit has been more committed to getting kids to school than the school district that is paid to ensure kids get to school. Despite weeks of negotiation sessions, OUSD has offered no solutions that benefit their kids. ”
AC Transit is encouraging parents to call the school district to help come up with a solution.
The debate is expected to continue Wednesday night when students and representatives from the OUSD attend the AC Transit board’s regularly scheduled meeting.