CLEVELAND (AP) - About 1,700 middle school students will have to take public transportation instead of school buses due to funding cuts.
Students at 10 middle schools will use Regional Transit Authority buses this school year, saving the district $2 million, said Alan Seifullah, a spokesman for the schools.
"We were forced to implement this action because of earlier cuts in funding to the district by the state of Ohio," schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a statement.
The cost of the RTA ride will be covered with fare cards provided to students for weekday use only.
Sharon and Bob DeCarlo send their two daughters to Whitney Young Middle School across town so that the girls can be in a program for gifted students.
Last school year, their daughters rode 45 minutes to school on district buses. Public buses will double their transportation time, Bob DeCarlo said.
"It's ludicrous to put a preteen on a bus at 6:15 a.m.," he said. "If we had earlier notification, I could have taken steps. Maybe I could have moved closer to the school. Maybe I could have gotten together with other parents to share transportation."
Last school year, 5,000 high school students used RTA buses along with 700 middle school students from Garrett Morgan and Cleveland School of the Arts, Seifullah said. State law does not require transportation for high school students.
Byrd-Bennett said in the statement that the district's transportation and security departments are working with RTA and Cleveland police to make sure the middle school students are safe on the public buses.