School board to vote on busing and grade banding

The Talawanda Board of Education is expected to vote at its meeting March 16 on the issues of single-tier busing and grade banding. 

According to the agenda, the five board members will first vote on single-tier busing. If this proposition is passed, next year the school district’s buses will first take all students in grades kindergarten through eighth to the middle school, where they will transfer for rides to the elementary schools. 

Bus service for most high school students is not envisioned under the proposal. 

If the single-tier bus system moves forward, the board will then be able to vote on the second issue of grade banding, which is impossible without the proposed bus system, officials say.

“I don’t know in advance what anyone is planning to do,” said Pat Meade, a resident of Oxford for 49 years who was elected to the board in 2017. “We could pass the busing but not the grade banding. We could vote them both down; we could vote them both up… But this will not disappear if it’s voted down tomorrow.” 

If the Board of Education approves its grade banding plan, Bogan Elementary will become grades K-1, Marshall Elementary will be dedicated to grades 2-3 and Kramer Elementary will host preschool and grades 4-5.  

In December, the BOE approved a three-year plan for cuts each of the three years. If the single-tier bus system and grade banding propositions are passed, these cuts will remain in place, but will allow the school district to wait a while before cutting programs such as art, music and gym, as well as high school prom, officials said. The bus system could save up to $200,000, and grade banding could save another $400,000. 

According to Meade, if these two propositions do not pass and if the schools do not get any more revenue from the state or local sources in two to three years, it is likely that the board will have to revisit these issues.