The new plan saves the Turlock district more than a half million dollars next year, but it boosts Patterson’s busing costs by nearly $300,000.
Members of the nine-member Superintendents Council, which makes decisions on special education-related matters for the Stanislaus Special Education Local Planning Area, should work together on a better compromise. If they are not willing to come up with a more equitable fee structure, they should allow the Patterson Joint Unified and Newman-Crows Landing School districts to have their own busing contact with First Student. That would save time and money, as buses could pick up pupils from First Student depots in Patterson and Newman rather than from Storer Transportation in Modesto.
Too often, the West Side gets stuck with a raw deal because the region does not have enough representation on local boards to have an influence regarding local issues. This was clearly the case in this instance, as Newman-Crows Landing Superintendent Ed Felt is the only West Side representative on the Superintendents Council.
The West Side has carried enough of the county’s burdens over the years, and it’s not unusual for West Siders to turn to litigation when they feel backed into a corner. The city of Patterson’s 2008 lawsuit against Stanislaus County in response to the former PCCP West Park project proposed for the Crows Landing Air Facility is a perfect example.
Local school districts are not going to willingly pay an undue share of the cost of busing for special education students in Stanislaus County, nor should they.
For everyone’s sake, the Superintendents Council would be wise to come up with a more equitable solution.