Talawanda parents worry attendance will suffer from bus changes


Provided photo

Leah Wasburn-Moses with her daughter Rachel. Wasburn-Moses is concerned parents with jobs cannot drive their children to school.

By Corbett Haase

To many Talawanda parents, the familiar yellow school bus no longer seems like reliable transportation. 

This year, difficulties in staffing the district’s fleet of 32 buses have resulted in repeated cancellations or consolidation of bus routes. Looking toward next year, the district says that busing may radically transform creating $200,000 in annual savings after voters rejected a tax levy in November.

The district floated a proposal to eliminate all transportation for students outside of a two-mile radius, as well as the elimination of transportation for high school students. It is a law in Ohio that students K-8 must be provided with transportation. However, transportation is not required for high school students or students living within a two-mile driving distance of a school. 

“I know the school district is trying to be responsible and serve as many people as they can, but I worry about parents with jobs where they might not be able to drive their children to school,” said Miami University professor of education and Talawanda parent Leah Wasburn-Moses.

She continued, “transportation is a public good that parents rely on.”  

Katie Day Good, an associate professor of strategic communication at Miami University with two children in local schools, said she was concerned the plan would “greatly increase traffic in the community and also create unsafe conditions” for children. 

“Are there sufficient sidewalks for kids to walk on? Are there enough crossing guards? How can families get their kids to multiple buildings at one time?” she asked.

Marshall and Bogan elementary schools, in particular, are surrounded by rural roads with no sidewalks.

Elena Jackson Albarran and husband Juan Carlos, have two children in Talawanda Schools: Noel and Lola. Provided photo

Elimination of bus service could also result in more student absences. “Kids aren’t going to have a way to go,” said associate professor of history and global and intercultural studies with two children in the district, Elena Jackson Albarran. 

TSD pays a private transportation company, Petermann Bus, to operate the fleet of 32 district-owned buses. 

“We just don’t know what they will decide yet,” said one driver, who wished to remain anonymous to protect his job. “My gut feeling is that we won’t know until the start of the next school year.”

The total savings would not be known until after families eligible for transportation sign up and the new routes are designed, said district spokeswoman Holli Hansel.  

“At this time the school board has heard a presentation regarding a cost savings plan regarding modifying transportation, but no routes have been determined as of right now,” Hansel said.  Community meetings will take place March 6 to 8 to provide the proposal and answer questions. No decisions have been made.” 

The three community meetings are at 6 p.m. March 6 at Kramer; 6 p.m. March 7 at Bogan; and 6 p.m. March 8 at Marshall. 

“A part of the challenge is that the district hasn’t communicated to us exactly what the busing arrangements will look like so that families can understand exactly how this will impact them,” said Good. “These ideas are being shared, but we haven’t been given any details yet. The district is not making those decisions until everybody is signed up, but how are you supposed to sign up if you don’t know what busing would look like?”