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Busing dispute approaches settlement

Published: Mon, August 13, 2012 @ 12:07 a.m.

Austintown schools officials near deal to stop WRTA plan

By Elise Franco



Austintown Local Schools officials are expected to forgo a controversial plan to offer public-transit vouchers to Catholic school students in lieu of district busing this school year.

Austintown Superintendent Vincent Colaluca said school district officials have spent the past two months working with Catholic school officials. They have agreed on a potential solution to the district’s initial plan of offering student vouchers for the Western Reserve Transit Authority, he said.

Austintown’s initial proposal, announced to parents in May, would have halted Austintown busing for students living in Austintown but attending St. Christine School, Ursuline High School or Mollie Kessler School beginning this fall.

The proposal offered public-transit vouchers to private-school students instead of using district vehicles.

Youngstown Christian School went through the same process with Austintown schools last year. School officials and parents there fought the decision and said none of their students uses the WRTA.

Colaluca said he wasn’t ready to outline details of the new proposal until it is finalized.

“We have a plan on the table that we think will work out,” he said. “It depends on [the Catholic schools] and if they can move some schedules around.”

Mike Pecchia, president of Youngstown Christian Schools, said the new proposal takes WRTA off the table and reinstates Austintown busing for Catholic students.

“I think the WRTA thing is put to bed. I think they realize it’s not an option,” Pecchia said. Austintown “is going to resume busing for us, and we have to provide an aide for the bus.”

Pecchia said the plan isn’t finalized because the Catholic schools are working out adjusting end-of-the-day scheduling. He said students are picked up each morning by Austintown buses, taken to Austintown Middle School where they’re put on one bus and dropped off at their respective schools. At the end of each day, they must arrive at Frank Ohl Intermediate School before 3:20 p.m. to catch their bus back home.

“The morning looks like it will be fine, and the students won’t be more than five minutes late, if at all,” Pecchia said. “In the afternoon we may have to let those kids out about 10 minutes early to meet their bus back to Austintown.”

Pecchia said he’s confident the scheduling will be resolved and a plan will be in place before the start of classes. Youngstown Christian Schools begin Aug. 27. Ursuline starts Aug. 22.

Randy Rair, assistant superintendent of the Youngstown Catholic Diocese, was not available for comment Friday afternoon.

Pecchia said he’s pleased the Catholic school officials were able to work with Austintown to resolve the issue.

“I understand that with all the buses and schedules, it’s difficult to make work, and I am pleased.”


1southsidedave(5183 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

I feel sorry for the students these days, tough enough being a kid without adding to the mix.

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2NoBS(2643 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Letting those kids out 10 minutes early means they stop learning 20 minutes early. But using the 10 minute figure, they're losing 30 hours of their 180 days in school.

The parents choose to send their kids to a school outside where the buses go - it should be up to the parents to arrange transportation. If I wanted my kids to go to South Range (top academic ratings), would the Austintown Schools bus them there? Why not - what's the difference?

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3taxme(361 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Bussing to non public schools with tax dollars is such a waste of tax dollars. Why didnt the tax payers vote on this? This shouldnt have been decided by politicians!

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4AnotherAverageCitizen(1182 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

A school district should not have to bus students outside their district. Those schools should provide thei own transportation from Austintown to the respective schools.

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5doubled(210 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Just so everyone is aware, the parents who live in Austintown, but send their children to paraochial schools, also pay austintown property taxes, which are used for busing austintown school children. zso don't worry -- so all you born again tea baggers can relax, no one is getting something for nothing. They pay property taxes, too. Probably more than you do. Austintown can figure out a way to get their kids to school.

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