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House Passes Bill To Close Busing Fees Loophole

School Bus

Photo: Indiana Public Media News

Parents are suing the Franklin Township school district for trying to charge busing fees.

The Indiana House has unanimously voted to seal a possible legal loophole that could allow school districts to charge for bus service.

It is already illegal to charge a bus fee, but Indianapolis’ Franklin Township school system attempted to get around that ban by farming out bus service to its Educational Service Center. Parents in the district are suing to block the fee, and Attorney General Greg Zoeller has issued an opinion concluding the end run is not enough to get around the constitutional ban.

The bill now headed for Governor Daniels would remove any doubt by explicitly banning ESC’s from charging a fee. Representative Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis), who authored the bill, removed the last obstacle to its passage by dropping an attempt to pair it with an incentive for school districts to conduct fluid analysis on their bus fleets.

Speedy says other legislators did not share his conviction that the analysis would produce significant cost savings. He also withdrew an attempt to move up the bill‘s effective date to April 1.

The Franklin Township contract does not expire until the end of the school year, and the constitution says legislators cannot interfere with pending contracts. Speedy says that provision by itself would be enough to keep the contract in force but says changing the effective date would have created confusion.

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