Hundreds of parents packed the Franklin Township Community School Board meeting Monday night, writes Daniel Miller at wishtv.com. It was their first chance to sound off about the district’s new bus policy.
Earlier, the district had to make extreme cuts from the transportation budget, wrote Lauren Lowrey at wishtv.com.
The cuts resulted in the sale of the district’s fleet of school buses to CIESC. The annual transportation fee for one student in a family is now $475. The fee for each student in the family thereafter is $405 annually. Alongside this there is a non-refundable registration fee of $20.00 per student that is required with each student application.
“We warned people what would happen,” said Superintendent Bourke.
“We’ve vowed to keep money in the general fund in place. That money pays for teachers and academics, not transportation. Transportation was once a property tax supported service and it has now become a user fee.”
There were a lot of upset parents when the school board met with the community. Many of them, as well as some students, addressed the school board, saying they had to come up with a solution to fix the problem.
Their concerns: safety for the students, and their education. And those concerns prompted some heated words exchanged at Monday’s meeting:
“Who authorized giving 60 buses at the cost of $75,000 each away for $1?” said Franklin Township parent Sandy Fifer.
Voters in the district rejected a referendum to raise property taxes and provide more money to the schools in the district. School officials say that because that vote failed they’re stuck footing the extra bill for transportation.
Franklin Township Superintendent Dr. Walter Bourke told 24-Hour News 8 several weeks ago that they would provide security at the entrances of their schools to help control traffic for the first couple of days of school.
A week after classes started, there’s still an officer directing traffic.
“We know transportation is an issue, but that’s not the issue. The issue is my 6-year-old daughter is losing class time because the adults can’t figure it out,” said Franklin Township parent Bill Galen.
It wasn’t the first time community members had spoken out about the issue. In July, many gathered at a town hall meeting to express their frustration. But with the referendum already voted down, school officials said they had no choice but to put the bus fee into place.