More than 50 buses from District 49 traveled to the State Capitol Building in Denver on Thursday to protest proposed education budget cuts.
Fellow drivers honked at the buses in both support and annoyance, as the buses circled the Capitol, touting pronouncements like "DRIVING OUR FUTURE," and, more pointedly, "NO CUTS."
The district said prior to the trip that its purpose was to send a message to lawmakers about education funding. A news release sent out Wednesday says the rally, "will bring a very visible reminder to lawmakers, reinforcing the need for state dollars in an effort to bring education to the center of budget discussions." The district expects to lose up to $9 million.
At the capitol, District 49 board president David Martin handed over the keys to all 84 of the district's buses to Senate Majority Leader John Morse, to symbolize the consequences of state cuts to education, which led to a vote eliminating bus service in the district for next school year.
"Quite frankly, as you see on our buses, it's our future, and we're wanting the state and legislators this session to really put our kids first, and put a good product out as far as education in the state of Colorado," Martin said.
An email sent to KKTV 11 News Wednesday afternoon from a concerned viewer said, "sending the buses to Denver will cost money that the district doesn't have."
Martin told 11 News he expects the cost of the round-trip drive to Denver to be $5,850. He says that figure came from the D49 Director of Transportation.
A fact sheet posted on the district's website states that it costs the district $2.81 per mile to run a bus. A trip to Denver and back for 50 buses would cost about $11,000. And that doesn't include the time the buses would spend driving around the building, as their news release states they plan to do. Martin says if the trip cost that much, they wouldn't be doing it.
Martin says that the money for the trip will come from the district's general fund, but it will be replaced. Martin tells 11 News that he's already personally raised $2,500 for this trip.
The district is on Spring Break this week.
The Secretary of State's office tells KKTV 11 News it is legal for the district to spend money on such an event.