INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - It's official: Parents in Franklin Township won't have to pay school bus fees next year.
That's after years of debate between the district and parents.
Franklin schools Superintendent Walter Bourke said the change is possible because of a bill Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law this week.
One new law prohibits schools from charging for transportation. Another helps schools with financial problems due to property tax caps. Those laws together will change Franklin Township Community Schools' transportation policies.
Right now, Franklin Township parents are charged $47.50 per student each month to ride the bus. The district said it implemented the program through an outside agency because of budget shortfalls.
But the new law, which was sponsored through the state House by Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis, makes it so that no fee can be charged to a parent or student for transportation to and from school.
The change will be enacted by next school year, Franklin schools said. Parents choosing to use the bus for the remainder of this school year will still have to pay, though.
"We intend to have free general transportation back on the roads in Franklin Township by August," Bourke said.
The other new law will help ease the strain on the district, though. It makes it easier for school districts to address financial problems due to property tax caps.
"It allows us to restructure our debt," Bourke said. "It would be similar to a family going from a 15-year mortgage to 30-year mortgage. We're going to be allowed to extend our debt as much as 10 years."
The school board will meet Monday to discuss exactly how to move ahead and refinance the district's debt.
There is still a lawsuit against the district for charging for transportation in the first place. In it, one Franklin parent is pushing for restitution for the fees already paid.
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