Cooperation allowed Austintown and Catholic school administrators to finalize a new busing plan before the start of classes this week.
Austintown Superintendent Vince Colaluca said the new plan will replace Austintown’s initial proposal, which was announced to parents in May.
The first proposal 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 Austintown superintendent said potential increased cost combined with low ridership in past years were the main factors in the district’s initial decision to cut busing.
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, though none of the students used the vouchers.
Now, busing will be continued as before — with the re-addition of YCS.
Colaluca said instead of adding a second bus for YCS students, the YCS and Ursuline routes were combined.
YCS also agreed to pay for a bus aide who will oversee students as they transfer buses in the afternoon. The second bus and an aide would have cost the district about $55,000 per year.
“The nonpublic schools have adjusted their students’ academic times, and that’s really helped,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll be emphasizing and pushing increased ridership,” he said.
Colaluca said he’s pleased that administrators were able to work together and finalize a plan before the start of the school year. Austintown classes begin today, Ursuline starts Wednesday and YCS starts Monday.
“I just want to thank the non-public leaders for working with us,” he said. “We sat down and talked about their needs and our needs so that we’re providing services and not burdening our budget.”
Colaluca said the new plan is a “win-win” situation for all parties involved because the district will continue to provide busing to non-public students without incurring additional costs.