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Austintown student busing dispute heats up



Published: Fri, June 8, 2012 @ 9:05 p.m.

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 Vindy.com


Comments

1valleyred(1095 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

The Vindy should receive a copy of the "marketing" letter sent to ALL private school parents by the Austintown BOE a few weeks ago asking why they would engage in school choice and not send their children to what they call the 'excellent' Austintown School District.

I believe Ms. Woodford is onto something.

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2janeyblue(227 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Again, you live in Austintown,you do not HAVE to send your kid to St. Christines. You as the parent made that choice. Send your kid to Immaculate Heart. Bus problem solved. Stop whining already.

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3gmailuser(6 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

No one is whining. Parents are asking for what they are entitled to, nothing more!

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4valleyred(1095 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

JaneyBlue,

Nobody is whining. You are the one that appears to be defending this ridiculous decision. If the parents pay taxes for the public school district, which they do, then they should be able to receive the same busing as the public school district.

When it comes to fiscal policy, Austintown BOE is completely lost. They have ballot issues almost every year for new schools or operating expenses, yet they go ahead and cut busing the way they are doing. They have NO idea how to handle their finances.

I urge ALL Austintown taxpayers to vote NO on any ballot issue for the Austintown School District in the future. Maybe that will teach them a lesson.

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5makesyathink(39 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

We pay taxes every day for services we either don't need or chose not to use. I pay for WRTA which I've never used. I pay for the Mahoning County Library system - and have never used ALL of their services. I pay federal taxes, some of which goes towards National Parks - which I will probably never use in my lifetime. And I pay for our military men and women to keep this country safe and allow us to have CHOICE.

AND, I do pay for Austintown Schools, whether or not I have children in them. It is an excellent school system - before, during, and after they were school age. It was my choice to use the facilities the school offers or not.

HOWEVER, the point to all of this is that we chose to live in this nice community, which supports their schools, which makes for a better community for EVERYONE. Taxes are for the better of the whole, not for every individual situation.

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6nascarbj(1 comment)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

IF you choose to send your child to private school, then you should provide your child the way to get there.

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7squirrel123(2 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

In the 70's there was a bus that transported those of us who had moved from the city to the burbs of Austintown. This bus picked up children who attended St. Brendan's, Holy Name and St. Anthony's. The bus was full and the ride was long to ensure we all got to our schools at correct times. There was no way that individual buses would have ever of worked to get us to these schools. Is there is a reason why something of this style can not work again. Yes it will take work and effort to coordinate schedules and logistics but would it not be worth it?

I do also find it amazing that $35,000 was spent on a marketing campaign that is nearly the same amount of money saved by not providing busing. This makes no sense to me. Many people send their children to catholic schools to continue the teaching of their faith. It has nothing to do with the quality of education offered in their backyard. Their is no amount of marketing that is going to change that belief.

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8Ianacek(891 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

I thought WRTA's Easy Go door to door service was designed for this type of situation . The student shouldn't have to walk a mile to school . Easy Go is funded by a 1/4% sales tax from 2008 .

Also , WRTA needs to reconfigure its fixed routes , to build more flexibility into the system.. People shouldn't always have to go to the city center to change buses . There should be some mini transit centres as well . e.g. Newport Square .

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9valleyred(1095 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Blah... keep drinking the Catholic School hating Kool-Aide. Thank God for the Catholic Schools in the Mahoning Valley and the "EXCELLENT" education they provide thousands of students each and every year!

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10andy92472(3 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Parents who choose to send their children for a catholic education should have the right to have those children safely bused to and from schools. Using public transportation such as WRTA puts these children health and safety in jeopardy. The issue should be about children, no more, no less. The busing issue affects all catholic schools including IHM.

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11Tottenham1(2 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Getting your own kids to school is a you problem. Its not a district problem. Its a you problem. If you want them to have an education, then dont put them getting to it in the hands of bumbling bureaucratic idiots. Its a You problem, private school parents.

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12andy92472(3 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

So what you are saying that it is the responsbility of all parents no matter what school a child attends to get their children to school?

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13city_resident(509 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

No one would have to walk a mile. But I agree that mini transit centers in the suburbs, where people can transfer from one bus to another without needing to go all the way downtown, is a good idea.

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14Rdm(1 comment)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

The most important issue here is the safety of the children and who then is ultimately liable if a child gets hurt or should turn up missing. You must remember that the WRTA bus terminal also serves as the Grayhound bus terminal and the potential exists that an unsupervised child could turn up missing. My suggestion to Mrs Woodford is to go to the WRTA bus terminal and video the patrons who frequent there and then go to YPD public records and obtain the number of police calls to that location. It helps Mrs Woodford's case that an arrest of a murderer was just made at the WRTA terminal. Then ask the Austintown schools to rethink this idea! Its a no brainer, this is a bad idea!

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