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Published: Wednesday, 3/2/2005

Trustees threaten legal action over school busing cuts

Bus transportation service ends today for all Lake High School students and any child in the Lake Local school district who lives within two miles of his or her school.

But Lake Township officials said last night they may consider legal action to force the school district to bus children for safety reasons.

"There is a real concern that there are no crosswalks or sidewalks on [State Rt.] 795, which leads to the schools," Trustee Melanie Bowen said. "If there is a mess in the morning, we will ask our solicitor to file an injunction."

The school board voted at its last meeting to cut school transportation to state minimums, among other cuts. The district will now provide bus service to elementary and middle-school students who live more than two miles from their school, which will save the district $32,235 this school year.

In response, the Lake Township trustees called a special meeting today at 5:30 p.m. in the Lake Township administration building, 27975 Cummings Rd. in Millbury, to discuss potential safety issues with police Chief Mark Hummer.

The school board said the cuts they approved were necessary because voters rejected an income tax and an emergency property tax levy in February. Voters also rejected tax requests in August and November.

Chief Hummer said his police crews would stop young children spotted walking this morning on Route 795.

Margene Akenberger, school board president, said the district had to make the busing cuts and that they are "well within the law."

"We haven't forgotten about kids' safety, but we have failed three levies in this community and we had to make cuts," Ms. Akenberger said. "I understand everybody's concern and I don't like that we have to do this."

Lake High School, Lake Middle School, and Lake Elementary School are all on Lemoyne Road near Route 795, a divided highway with traffic lights. The district includes Walbridge Elementary, located in the village of Walbridge.

When asked about the trustees' possible legal action, she said, "the trustees have to do what they feel they have to do."

Trustee Richard Welling noted that townships are not required under Ohio Law to install sidewalks.



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