Austintown student busing dispute heats up

AUSTINTOWN — Austintown’s decision to offer public-transit vouchers to private-school students instead of busing them on district vehicles has led to a larger debate about school choice, say parents and officials.

And one parent has gone so far as to accuse the district of “a strong-arm tactic.”

“A parent who needs buses to get their children to school, what exactly are their options?” asked Debbie Woodford, who has a child attending St. Christine School and another attending Ursuline High School. “Send them to Federal Plaza or send them to Austintown. What’s the definition of blackmail?”

Woodford said the decision by Austintown administrators to offer Western Reserve Transit Authority vouchers for township residents who attend private schools outside of Austintown isn’t about finances.

A parent told The Vindicator this week that her child would be picked up on Mahoning Avenue at 6:35 a.m., taken to Federal Station in downtown for a layover and bus change and then be dropped off one mile from St. Christine School at 8 a.m.

Students would have to ride on existing WRTA routes, and although there already is an Austintown loop and a Cornersburg loop, a rider can only switch from one to the other at Federal Station.

For the complete story, read Saturday's Vindicator and

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