* Two elementary schools also could see their start times
By PAMELA WILLIS
Published: Tuesday, February 15,
2011 6:35 PM EST
Worthington school board members this week mulled over a new
"transportation action plan" that could eliminate busing for
some elementary school and middle school students who live
within 1.5 miles of their schools.
The plan also could change two "late-start" elementary
schools to "early-start" schools.
George Joseph, executive director of administrative
services, and George Sontag, director of transportation,
presented the plan to board members at a meeting held
Monday, Feb. 14 at the Worthington Education Center.
The action plan is based on recommendations made by Ohio
Auditor of State Mary Taylor in a performance audit
requested by the district last year.
Taylor's recommendations included revising the board's
transportation policy to adopt state minimum requirements
for bus service levels and to modify policy guidelines to
grant management the right to make exceptions to those
requirements in high-traffic areas.
Vicki Gnezda, the district's director of communication, said
the state requires transportation of students in grades K-8
who live more than 2 miles from school. State minimums do
not require transportation for high school students, except
for a shuttle to vocational schools.
Per state law, districts are required to transport students
with special needs.
The performance audit suggested the district could reduce up
to nine buses with a redesign of the routing system.
Joseph said transportation administrators identified three
areas to consider: establishing minimums for transportation
of students to nonpublic schools; adjusting start and end
times for two elementary schools; and exploring changes to
current bus routes at some of the schools.
The district currently transports 318 nonpublic school
students to a variety of parochial and nonpublic schools at
a cost of $567,445. They also receive some reimbursement
from the state for that transportation.
Information in the plan stated administrators determined it
"impractical to provide transportation for bus routing under
10 students." Changing the policy to limit bus routes to 10
students or more per route, and paying each family $178 in
lieu of transportation, could save the district $214,020 per
Adjusting the start and end times for two elementary
schools, Colonial Hills and Wilson Hill, and changing their
school times from what is considered "late start" -- 8:15 to
8:20 a.m. -- to an "early start" of 7:55 or 8 a.m. could
reduce two or three bus routes and drivers, resulting in a
cost savings of more than $100,000 a year, according to the
"We have communicated with building principals and are
currently in the process of asking parents for thoughts and
considerations as we explore this concept," Joseph said.
Board policy in Worthington is to transport elementary
school and middle school students who live more than 1.5
miles from school.
The district currently transports 473 elementary school and
middle school students living within 1.5 miles of Liberty
Elementary School and McCord Middle School, because of
construction on Hard Road, the lack of safe walkways and the
fact that the schools have ample space for parents to drop
"The transportation department is investigating those
conditions to see if any conditions have changed or what can
be changed to make the walkways safe," Gnezda said.
Eliminating five of those bus runs would save $30,000
annually, according to the plan.
The district currently transports 159 high school students
to Worthington Kilbourne High School who live within 2 miles
of the school for the same reasons: construction on Hard
Road and not enough clear walkways, Gnezda said.
Eliminating one of those bus runs would save $6,000
annually, according to the plan.
Joseph said the district has contacted the Department of
Public Services in Columbus to discuss the possibility of
placing pylons between Hard Road and the sidewalk under the
train overpass and investigating other ways to ensure
student walking safety as they investigate route changes.
The district already has made changes in transportation this
year, including the reduction of one bus and driver, at a
cost savings of $10,000, by allowing typical education
students to ride bus routes intended for special-needs
preschool students, according to the action plan.