How Will Magnet School Kids Get To School? | Transportation

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How Will Magnet School Kids Get To School?

JACKSONVILLE - The parking lot at Darnell-Cookman Middle High School may be busier than the normal first day of school on Monday, August 22.  Kids like 13 year old Elizabeth Caldwell, who normally take the school bus, will be carpooling with her Mom, April Caldwell, and two other students this year.

That's because the District will no longer provide free bus transportation to 7 Duval County magnet schools. The schools are Darnell-Cookman, Stanton, Paxon, Landon, James Weldon Johnson, Kirby-Smith and LaVilla. The District is expected to save 3 million dollars a year cutting out transportation to the 7 magnet schools.

"We were stressed," says April Caldwell, when she first heard about the cuts. Caldwell has a flexible work schedule and says carpooling was her best alternative. "We realized that we were willing to make the sacrifice. This is a great school. My daughter wants to be here. She's going to graduate from here." Elizabeth says riding the bus was prime social time for her. "That's usually the time I get to talk to friends before and after school on the bus."

Some parents have opted to pay to have their children ride the school bus. Most of the third party transportation companies are charging about $1000 per child to take a student to and from school for the entire school year.

Will Buckey and his wife both work full time. They have two kids who go to Darnell Cookman and say a multiple child discount and a payment plan are what sold them to shell out big bucks to pay for the school bus. "When the last price came through and First Student said they would take four payments that's when we figured it would work," says Buckey.

But not all parents can foot the bill. "Probably two out of three parents who call us sign up. The third says that's too much money, that's unreal, I'll find another way to get my child to school," says John McKinley of First Student. McKinley says after parents calculate the cost of gas and time, many decide to pay the money. Buckey says he's fortunate to pay for his kids to ride the bus. "But there are a lot of kids who just can't no matter how small the cost is. I feel bad for them," says Buckey.

One of the least expensive options is public transportation. Rides on a JTA bus are a dollar and student passes $30 a month.





















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