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SCHOOLS Austintown posts transportation plan revisions on Web site



Published: Wed, July 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Creatore's motions were unable to gain support with other board members.

By KATIE LIBECCO

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- Concerns over a new transportation plan brought more than a hundred people to Tuesday night's board of education meeting at Watson Elementary School.

Board members decided to change the transportation plan to save the district money at a meeting in April.

The change will save the district about $200,000 by eliminating eight school bus driver positions.

Parents of parochial school pupils were concerned that no changes had been made in transportation for public schools.

Superintendent Douglas Heuer announced that the new transportation plan would be posted today on the Austintown schools' Web site, www.austintown.k12.oh.us. .

The plan will not have elementary school pupils riding the bus with high school students, a primary concern of parents at the meeting Tuesday night.

The transition site for pupils to change buses will also now be St. Joseph's Elementary School at 4565 New Road in Austintown, not Fitch High School. Parents and board members were concerned about high traffic and the different ages of pupils interacting, Heuer said.

Their facilities and three faculty members would help pupils transfer buses.

Addressing issues

The plan is the final draft, but he expects that several revisions would be made.

"We just wanted to address some of the issues that parents had with this plan," Heuer said.

Routes have not been announced yet, but they are expected to be completed sometime next week.

Austintown board of Education member Michael Creatore attempted to change the transportation plan. He motioned to keep the transportation plan as it was next year until something that would please more people could be found. His suggestion brought a standing ovation from the crowd.

However, the motion died for lack of a second.

Creatore also motioned to have the board review the transportation plan again, which also did not receive a second.

"I don't feel you should discriminate against a section of our student body and treat them differently," Creatore said.

Parents' input

Nearly 20 parents signed up to speak to the crowd and address the board regarding the transportation issue.

"I know in the back of everyone's mind is the word 'discrimination,'" said parent Cynthia Ritchie. "All we are asking for is fair treatment."

"The only thing we've ever got from our tax dollar is a ride to school, but you just took that away from us," said parent Debbie Woodward.

As frustrations grew among the crowd, parents became more talkative. At one point, Atty. Brad Gessner told the crowd they were only there to watch.

"If you become disruptive, the Austintown police will be called," Gessner added.

Colleen Bagnoli, transportation director of Austintown School District, did not attend the board of education meeting Tuesday night. She had attended several liaison meetings in recent weeks to discuss the transportation plan.

Creatore suggested that her absence be discussed at a future executive session.

"You'd think that she would be here," he said.




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