As cash-strapped public schools attempt to squeeze every possible dollar out of their budgets, an unpleasant reality awaits parents: They will most likely have to pay for programs and services that schools once provided for free, reports the Texas Tribune. Consider Keller Independent School District just north of Fort Worth, where students who ride the bus will now pay $185 each per semester. Rather than scrap busing altogether after voters rejected a property tax hike in June to make up for lost state revenue, the district opted to institute fares. The $4 billion cut in education financing at the state level for 2012-13 means these extra charges will become increasingly common. “We’re going to see districts charging fees for things that they have always been able to but just haven’t chosen to in the past,” said David Thompson, a former general counsel for the Texas Education Agency who now represents school districts. Across the country, such fees also threaten to draw lawsuits about what it means to provide a “free” public education under state constitutions…

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staff and wire services reports