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Published: Friday, 12/22/2000

End Dayton busing

If Dayton city schools finally stop busing students in the name of racial balance, it should occur not just because it's financially wise but because it's the right thing to do.

Dayton is the only Ohio city that still buses students outside of their neighborhood schools under a 1976 court order designed to achieve racial balance. A federal judge and the state controlling board should agree that it's time to bring Dayton's busing to a halt.

One good reason: 73 percent of the students in the district are black. Not all of them are bused. But because the district is predominantly of one race, it's no longer necessary to bus to correct racial imbalance. None exists.

Dayton parents don't like it anyway. In this era of school choice, they should have as much right to say where their children attend school as anyone else. Indeed, parents decades ago detested having their children bused for racial balance. But the intention was to afford minority students a good public education, and at the time there were overriding public benefits.

The move to stop busing will also please Dayton school administrators because they could get a financial windfall of $32 million - to replace state aid Dayton schools have received to bus students - over two years for school construction and renovation. Each year the district has received $4.5 million from the state for busing, and only $3 million is expected for next year.

Whether the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People agrees that it's time to cease busing Dayton schoolchildren is unclear. The civil rights organization filed a lawsuit that led to the desegregation effort. But clearly the best interests of the school district, and the families it serves, would be best met if busing is ended.

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