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Waukee Community School District busing changes mean less students could be eligible to ride

Some students in the Waukee Community School District may not have the option to ride the bus for free or pay for transportation services in the 2022-23 school year.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Waukee Community School District sent out an email to parents explaining their plans to hit the gas on transportation costs for the 2022-23 school year. 

Currently, the district's transportation system says children who are in elementary school and live more than a mile from the school — as well as secondary students who are more than two miles away from their school — qualify for free transportation. 

But busing to and from school isn't free for all students. 

Those who are in K-5th grade and live between .76 - .99 miles from their school and secondary students who live between 1.01-1.99 miles from their school have to pay to ensure a school bus stops by their home.

Waukee CSD's set cost this year is $625.00 per year, round trip, per child or $312.50 per year, one-way, per child. The district set a due date for these payments by the first quarter of school for the first semester for round-trip, and the third quarter of school for the second semester. 

According to an email sent by the district, the upcoming school year's prices will be nearly double compared to 2021-22.

The pay-to-ride fees are non-refundable.

Those students in elementary school who live less than .76 miles away from the school and those in secondary school who live 1.01 miles away do not have the option to ride the bus for free or pay for transportation services. 

"If the winter time ... if they provide the bus as free even less than a mile, that would be great," said Abdul Alpem, a Waukee parent who is asking the district for accommodations during winter and severe weather situations. "In the summertime and before the winter ... I can accept it. They can go by bicycle. Again, the security concern is there."

The district's website says those who qualify for free and reduced lunches also qualify for free transportation regardless of their proximity to the school. 

West Des Moines Schools also charge for transportation at a certain distance, but theirs are two or three miles depending on grade. The annual roundtrip is also cheaper by $135, and the one-way by $57.

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