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Private school busing in Germantown to remain unchanged in 13-14 school year

Board tabled decision to offer busing stipends to private school parents

July 30, 2013

Germantown — The Germantown School District will not make any changes to private school busing in the 2013-14 school year, the School Board decided Monday.

Presently the district buses students to and from 13 local private schools. Last week, the board's Transportation Committee considered but did not act on the possibility of offering stipends to parents of students in five of the private schools in lieu of busing those students.

State law says that if the cost of busing a private school student is 1.5 times the district's average per-student busing cost, then the district can instead pay the parent of that student either the average per student busing cost, or the total of $5 multiplied by the distance from that student to their private school — whichever is greater. Though the district is still compiling data on transport costs, it is estimated that the cost of busing students to five of the 13 private schools is great enough to qualify for the stipend arrangement.

By offering the stipend instead of paying to bus the private school students, the district could save money in the long term.

State law also says that the decision would have to have been made Monday to give the private schools the required 30 days of notice before the beginning of the school year. However, it was the brevity of that 30-day window that convinced the School Board to send the issue back to the Transportation Committee and hold the matter for further board consideration until October.

Private school parents packed the board room to express their concern over the potential change, saying it was too close to the beginning of the school year for them to find alternate arrangements. The board agreed.

"We should have had been having this discussion a long time ago," School Board President Bob Soderburg said, "not thirty days before the start of the school year."

He added after the board's decision: "We're not going to take any action this (school) year."

Superintendent Jeff Holmes said the administration will meet with private school parents and principals, continue to examine busing in an effort to find savings, and update the public on any findings before delivering a detailed report to the board in June of 2014. That report could precipitate a change to private school busing and the implementation of stipends beginning in the 2014-15 school year, Holmes said.

Board member Bruce Warimont pointed out that the busing matter is one of many the board will consider as it looks for ways to save money in the long term.

"You expect your school board to investigate a lot of the expenditures we make," Warimont said. "This is one of those exercises."

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