HAMMONDSVILLE - Changes in the Edison Local School District at the start of the school year will mean buses will no longer stop for open-enrollment students. At least for now.
According to district Transportation Director Joe DeBold, a decline in state funding has led to some "very tough decisions and guidelines as far as busing" matters go.
It was announced last month that Edison no longer will provide mid-day busing for preschool children since $150,000 was cut from the budget. Parents were informed they would have to pick their child up from school if they attend morning classes or bring their child to school for afternoon lessons.
STUDYING CHANGES — The Edison Local School District won’t offer open enrollment busing when school starts on Aug. 26. A cut in state funding has necessitated cuts in the district’s transportation system, but officials said they will re-evaluate the busing situation after the start of school year. Looking over busing routes are Superintendent David Quattrochi, left, and Transportation Director Joe DeBold.
-- Julie Ghrist
School is scheduled to begin Aug. 26.
But now the district says its 125 open-enrollment students also must find their own method of transportation to Edison High School - the district's only hub this year. Buses will be at the central location to transport students to their respective buildings.
"This was not a decision we came upon lightly, but a decision that was necessary by the funding guidelines set by the state," DeBold said.
Ohio recently cut money from the district's transportation fund, as well as discontinued money allotted for purchasing new buses, officials said. The state also restructured the reimbursement formula, giving districts a lower percentage than before, including miles traveled.
There are 2,300 students enrolled at Edison, with 1,950 of those students being transported by bus.
The director explained the transportation department will evaluate the number of available seats on each bus once the school year begins, and should there be a high percentage of buses that can accommodate more students, then those classified as open enrollment students may have the opportunity to be picked up at their respective bus stops once again.
DeBold gave the example that if 80 percent of the buses are capable of holding more students, he then will attempt to accommodate the other 20 percent.
"We are reverting to what many other districts are already doing because our funding has been cut," DeBold stated. He said the state does not mandate that a school district provide transportation for open enrollment students, but the district has done so for years.
"We put on extra buses last year for our courtesy and open enrollment students," he said, noting other districts did not do the same.
DeBold stated if a student lived in the Edison district but attended a school in Steubenville or Toronto, that transportation was not provided by those school districts and the student relied on other transportation.
Courtesy busing is when a parent decides to send a child to another Edison school that is located outside of their demographic area. One example would be a student who lives near Stanton Elementary but decides to attend Springfield Middle School. Those students also will have to meet at the high school to be taken to their school of choice.
The goal of the district is to pick up and not backtrack when taking students to school, which became time consuming and costly, DeBold said.
"Right now we are working out time and capacity," he added. "Our drivers are working together very positively and we will evaluate the situation again. We are gathering information from the bus drivers and hold monthly transportation meetings with the drivers and another meeting with transportation committee members."
Superintendent David Quattrochi said he is grateful that so many students who live outside the school district want to enroll at Edison.
While he realizes the current bus situation is a struggle for some families, he is hopeful the matter can be rectified in the near future and all students once again will be able to receive the needed transportation.
DeBold and Quattrochi said in a time where many area school districts are having to cut lunch programs and staff members, Edison now is forced to cut open enrollment busing - which is something several local school districts have been doing for years.
Toronto City Schools' Superintendent Fred Burns stated his district has had a decrease in transportation funds. However, he does not believe this will have an effect on the district.
"At the same time they cut our preschool funds," Burns said, adding the district has "been fortunate the last couple of years."
Burns said Toronto, as well as Steubenville City Schools, should be least effected by the transportation cuts because they do not have many miles to travel and do not pick up open enrollment students.
Edison buses travel the most miles - approximately 3,500 per day within the 205-square-mile district - in the county.
Steubenville Superintendent Mike McVey said the loss of transportation funding has not affected the district's operations.
He attributed this to the buses not having many miles to travel to pick up students. The city does not have to travel to pick up open enrollment students as well.
McVey said he plans to travel to Columbus this week to go over the adjustments that were made, but for now "everything will remain the same as it has in the past."
(Ghrist can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)