Busing cut was not a slam on private schools

To the editor:

The Oberlin school board voted to support the recommendation to declare the busing of 14 Lake Ridge Academy students “impractical.”

Board members collected input from community members, conferred with Ohio School Board Association personnel, and considered facts gathered by the superintendent and treasurer. We encouraged exploration of other options and contacted state government officials to encourage cross-district busing. Though members of the board proudly encourage every student to choose our district, the decision was not a statement against private schools. Rather it was another step in efforts to be fiscally prudent with our community’s limited resources.

Due to the nature of public school funding, districts must constantly monitor both expenses and income. Unpredictable state funding and income tax collections make funding hard to gauge and demand careful control of expenses.

The district faces the following financial challenges in fiscal year 2018, beginning July 1, 2017:

• Projected reduction of $130,000 per year in state “Core Aid.”

• Reduction in state transportation reimbursement funding.

• Reduction in local income tax collections for the district (down $173,000 year to date).

• Increase in health care costs (rising faster than the 11 percent budgeted increase), which could result in $300,000 of additional expenses.

If these projections are accurate, the district’s budget will be negatively impacted by over $600,000 in fiscal year 2018.

As a result of the ongoing public school financing challenge, last May Dr. Hall presented the board with the option to offer “payment in lieu of transportation” as permitted in Ohio Revised Code 3327. Though opponents argue savings realized would be a fraction of the estimate, treasurer Angela Dotson calculated the estimated yearly savings of $33,000 based on fiscal year 2016 transportation expenses. The board supported Dr. Hall’s position.

Anne Schaum

President, Oberlin School Board