Starting next week, some middle school students in the Vandalia-Butler City Schools district who were prohibited from riding district school buses will be able to ride the buses again.
Bus service is being restored to neighborhoods where students lived within the district’s two-mile no transportation zone, according to Bethany Reiff, district spokeswoman. The district reduced transportation to state minimums last year after officials made some cuts that were prompted by a drop in state and local funding.
“Our district has made cuts down to the bone and there’s absolutely no wiggle room,” said Superintendent Brad Neavin in a press statement. “This wouldn’t be an option for us if we hadn’t contracted out our transportation services.”
In August, the district’s board of education approved a five-year contract with First Student, a Cincinnati-based transportation company, to provide bus service to the district’s students. The company is not charging the district any additional cost to provide the new service, Reiff said.
District officials anticipate a $1.4 million savings from the contract with First Student.
“Through our community outreach efforts, I have heard from parents and community members who are concerned about students walking in areas that do not have sidewalks. To further compound the problem, there are more cars transporting students to and from our schools every day,” Neavin said. “Recognizing that this is a serious safety issue, we asked First Student to sit down with us and devise solutions that are within the budget.”
The district currently provides bus service for students in grades K-8 who live beyond a two-mile radius from their schools.
Approximately 360 students are expected to be impacted by the change, Reiff said. The students attend Smith and Morton Middle Schools.
Parents and guardians of students who qualify for the new transportation service are expected to receive a mailed letter from the school district within the next couple of days.