Busing debate isn’t really about money

To the editor:

For the second time this year, the Oberlin school board is considering the elimination of busing to Lake Ridge Academy. The stated reason is to save money. But it isn’t about the money. The school has a budget surplus and little will be saved by such a decision.

For years, Oberlin has provided busing to private schools including Lake Ridge Academy, not out of generosity, but because it required by law. There is a process by which a school board can demonstrate such busing is not feasible – then it may be exempted. This requires a ruling by the state board of education. This is a time-consuming and expensive process and proving infeasibility after 30 years of feasibility will not be easy.

One embittered school board member resents the fact that 15 families send their children to a private school. He thinks that making it harder to do so will cause these students to return to the Oberlin Schools. He is wrong. Families who make this choice do so at great expense, and raising that expense is unlikely to change that decision. Eliminating busing will impact family decisions to live in the Oberlin community, particularly for new Oberlin College faculty and staff. Over time this will further erode the tax base, support for the public school, and push the district closer to merger with an adjacent district or state takeover.

The irony is that this community would not be what it is if families all over the world did not believe in spending $60,000 a year to send their son or daughter to a private school, Oberlin College. Many of these families are not wealthy — they just believe in doing the most they can to educate their children and make great sacrifices to do this.

Eliminating the school bus to Lake Ridge, Open Door Christian Academy, Elyria Catholic, and other local private schools will result in more students and parents driving back and forth to school. This will reduce student safety, raise the carbon footprint of this community, and ultimately will lower the tax base of this community.

John Scofield