Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Lake Local board votes to restart buses

The cash-strapped Lake Local school board voted unanimously last night to restore busing for all students in January.

While Transportation Director Tammy Tapley still has to work out the details, school board members said they voted to restore bus service for all students because they anticipated that state reimbursement would most likely outweigh what the district has been saving since going to state minimums for bus transportation on March 2.

"It served its purpose," Ms. Tapley said of eliminating service to all Lake High students and any student in the district living within two miles of school.

"We needed to save money quick, and we did," she said. "But eventually, the loss in [state] reimbursement will eat up the savings that we've already had."

The district saved about $1,000 a day for the 90 school days that the busing reduction has been in place.

Officials said it was only meant to be a short-term solution for part of a school year to save money.

The decision cut a third of the buses out of the fleet, and laid off seven bus drivers.

Ms. Tapley said she'd most likely keep the bus stops locations as they existed, but would rearrange some routes to allow all students to fit on the buses.

The goal is to have all the busing details worked out by Jan. 4 - the start of Lake's second semester of classes - and to have the changes in place by the Jan. 31 deadline so Ms. Tapley can amend the report she filed to the state based on the district's level of bus service for the reimbursement funding.

"Like so much else, our future's pretty short," board member Eric Hirzel said. "We've been looking at things short-term because we're desperate, and we figured we'd have a levy passed by now."

Voters have rejected the districts's last six funding requests, including an emergency operating levy equivalent to 8.74 mills that was defeated Nov. 8.

In other action, the board unanimously authorized the treasurer to advertise for bids on a special-needs bus to replace one that's traveled just under 300,000 miles.

The board will then choose whether to authorize the purchase at a future meeting using state funding that can only be used to buy buses.

District officials have generally bought two new buses a year, but haven't authorized any purchases in the past two years to save money.

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