Johnstown Independent

Transportation to nonpublic schools

Johnstown board puts brakes on busing changes

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Johnstown-Monroe school board members voted 4-0 on Oct. 15 to table any action regarding transporting non-public school students who live within the district until more data is available.

Board president Roger Montgomery was absent.

The school board wants to hold off on any changes until "hard numbers" are studied, even after receiving official Ohio Department of Education timings of the routes that buses take to the various private schools.

According to state law, a school district is not required to transport children to nonpublic schools if that route takes more than 30 minutes to complete.

"We're just waiting to have all the hard numbers," board member Amy Ramey said. "We're not getting all our numbers from our (transportation vendor, Petermann)."

Ramey said board members are relying on information from the state, Superintendent Damien Bawn and treasurer Tammy Woods. In the meantime, the district will continue to transport nonpublic students in the same manner it has been doing.

"The board decided to maintain the same status we have observed so far this year on nonpublic transportation as we continue to gather all the data on costs and benefits," Bawn said.

Ramey said the district must consider far more information than only the ODE's official timing of routes, the results of which are listed on the district's website.

"There's a lot to it," she said, adding that no board member was comfortable in deciding which nonpublic students would be bused and which ones wouldn't be bused, based solely on the information currently available.

"At this time no decisions have been made," board member Jim Dodderer said. "We hope to have more information by the next board meeting. We are hoping to have the costs of each route. We're trying to make the most informed decision possible for everyone involved."

Bawn said he and Woods have more information to gather, and they plan to communicate with the Northridge Local School District, which had been helping to transport nonpublic students but has begun to transport fewer nonpublic students based upon its own timed runs.

"The board asked us to further develop projected cost analyses to demonstrate what the services would cost going forward," Bawn said. "Although we hope to develop that review quickly, the board did not set a firm deadline for making final decisions."

The board's decision came as good news to Johnstown resident and parent Michael Rush.

"I am pleased that the board is doing their due diligence, gathering all the facts and applying some common sense to the nonpublic busing issue," said Rush, who has been speaking on behalf of nonpublic school parents.

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