Graham Local Schools has announced the district will not be eliminating high school busing for the upcoming school year, despite previous statements from school officials saying it would following a levy failure in May.
“During the Graham Local Schools’ scheduled Board of Education meeting on Monday, July 15, Board President Ryan Pine announced that high school busing for the 2019-2020 school year will be provided,” a statement from the district said.
Instead of completely cutting transportation to the high school, bus routes will instead be limited to group stops.
“The district will establish “group stops” within the townships so that high school students can meet at the closest stop and ride the bus to school,” the statement said.
Graham Local School’s Board of Education President Ryan Pine said the district was able to find the funding for high school busing by identified several routing adjustments that will allow the district to transport the same number of students while reducing two drivers for the 2019-2020 school year.
“Additionally, the district has received a high number of resignations late in the school year and throughout the summer months that were unplanned changes which have resulted in savings for the district,” Pine said.
High school students who rely on busing to school can expect to know more about the group stops before the start of school.
“The district wants to thank the community in advance for their patience, flexibility and understanding as the transportation department establishes routes in order to ensure that students get to school in the safest and most efficient way possible,” the statement said.
In mid-May the district released a statement saying they were cutting five full-time positions, eliminating high school busing and adding fees for some courses as a result of a levy failure.
Cuts were announced as the result of the fourth failure of a 1 percent additional earned income tax levy that would have helped raise $2 million for the district. Voters rejected the levy by 394 votes in early May.
“Financial stability with prioritized instructional spending will continue to be the focus for the board when we are forced to choose between essential service in the future,” Pine said.
Despite finding the funding to continue busing high school students, Pine said the district is in desperate need of additional funding.
“It is imperative for Graham to pass a new operating levy for the district to climb out of our current and historical cycles of devastating cuts,” Pine said.
On top of budget cuts and staff layoffs, the district is also in the process of filing former superintendent Kirk Koennecke’s position.
Koennecke also announced in mid-May that he would be leaving the district in July for a superintendent position at Indian Hill Exempted School District, a district located in the suburbs of Cincinnati. Koennecke was with the district for three years.
Pine said previously that the Board hoped to hire a candidate sometime in June, however, the position has not yet been filled.
In the meantime, Emily Smith, director of student services for Graham, is serving as the assistant superintendent.
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