Students ride luxury buses to practice while district asks for more money

A year ago, Cleveland 19 showed you the John Marshall football team boarding a Lakefront Lines charter bus for the 1.7 mile trip to Mohican Park for practice. At the time, the football field behind their school was torn up and unplayable; the buses were used to take them to the alternate location, despite there being a perfectly good field behind Garfield Elementary about a quarter mile down West 140th.

MORE: Charter concerns as football players go to practice in style

Sources estimated this coast about $700 a day, double what a regular school bus would cost.

Some things have changed and there is now grass at the field behind Marshall, but one thing has stayed the same: the school is still using charter buses this year. Another change? These cost is now nearly $800 a day.

Two of the buses were parked at the rear of Marshall as the school let out, ready to take the football team to practice. One of the buses loaded kids from Marshall and was off to Mohican, while the second headed to charter school Bard, picked up just six students, and then left for the field. Like last year, a couple hours later, the process reversed itself and the students returned to school.

The district said the charter buses were used to accommodate the athletes and their gear. However, a random check found that yellow buses took the players to games, and other sports that didn’t require as much gear, including soccer, volleyball, cross country and even sports vehicles, were also given charter buses by the district.

There are some legitimate reasons for using charter buses, though. According to the district, there is a shortage of yellow bare limits on the number of hours a bus driver can work in a given day as well as overtime to deal with.

The district also said that there is a shortage of yellow buses at peak times. However, the shortage was not apparent at the district’s bus depot on Harvard, were there were plenty of buses ready to go at exactly the time that the Marshall kids were getting on their charter buses. There was a similar situation at the other garage on St. Clair.

Reports estimate that, during the 2014-2015 school year, the Cleveland Schools’ provided data estimated the cost of charter busing to be more than $650,000. The school district is asking for a renewal of their $15 million tax in November.

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