School buses in Fairfax County, Va.
School buses in Fairfax County, Va. - 
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Steve Chiotakis: The start of a new school year is mere days away. And as states grapple with tighter education budgets, some families are being asked to share more of the cost.

From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR in Baltimore, Amy Scott reports.

Amy Scott: In Keller, Texas, near Fort Worth, riding the bus to school used to be free. Starting this fall, public school students will have to pay $185 a semester.

James Guthrie: This is like banks continuing to add fees. You're just going to chase the customers away eventually.

That's James Guthrie, with the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas. He says school districts feeling pressed for money are passing costs onto parents. Last year, a chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state of California over the practice. Staff attorney David Sapp says schools are charging for basics like books and supplies. Activities like band and football can cost more than $1,000.

David Sapp: This is essentially a tax, and it's most painful and hardest on the members of our society that can least afford it.

Sapp says these fees are illegal in California. Bus fare to and from school is one of the few fees the state allows.

I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

Follow Amy Scott at @amyreports