Legislators are considering a proposal that would give Iowa schools authority to extend the riding time on bus routes.

Under current Iowa law, elementary students may ride no more than an hour on the bus at a time. The length of a single bus ride for high schoolers may be no more than 75 minutes. Senator Ken Rozenboom, a Republican from Oskaloosa, favors allowing longer bus routes.

“A Greene County school that has the elementary and high school co-located, if they were allowed to add 15 minutes to the elementary transportation time — taking it from 60 minutes to 75 minutes — it would allow them to eliminate two bus routes and save approximately $100,000,” Rozenboom said. “And that puts money into educating children instead of riding around on a bus.”

A bill that would let ride times for students be 15 minutes longer to school and 15 minutes longer on the way home has cleared the Senate Education Committee. The legislation also let school boards set even longer bus routes if they notify parents at least 30 days ahead of time and hold two public hearings before the change would take place.

Senator Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, was skeptical.

“I haven’t heard from any parents saying: ‘I want my kid on the bus longer,'” Bowman said. “…Haven’t heard from any superintendents saying they need a longer period of time and I haven’t heard from any constituents saying this is a need and I certainly haven’t heard from any students saying: ‘I want to be on the bus longer.'”

Bowman, though, wound up voting to advance the bill out of committee. The measure is now eligible for debate in the full Senate.