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Published: Tuesday, 1/11/2011

Bedford school board opts to join Monroe County bus study

TEMPERANCE -- Nearly two months after saying no to participating in the countywide bus study, Bedford Schools has reversed course.

The Board of Education last week took a second look at joining the controversial study of regionalized transportation being spearheaded by the Monroe County Intermediate School District.

Shawna Smith, Mike Smith, and Joe Gore opposed the study when the issue came before the Board of Education in November. However, they changed their position, joining President Tim Brakel, and Vice President Kim Hooper in approving the school district's participation.

The board's action calls for the district to participate in the study and review the results of that study.

Mr. Smith said before the vote: "I do not feel comfortable to do my due diligence that we are to represent Bedford Public Schools, not the Monroe County ISD. I appreciate the board's willingness to take that off the table to participate in the study."

Board member Ann Myers, participating in the meeting via Skype, voted against joining the study, just as she did at the Nov. 4 meeting.

Paul Francis, a former school board member, urged the board to consider the study. He said he was disappointed that members voted against the measure in November.

"This seems to me to be such an illogical decision," said Mr. Francis, an elected trustee on the township board. "This study will not cost Bedford anything."

Bedford Public Schools became the ninth and last county school district to participate in the study, which is being paid for by the Intermediate School District. The study is expected to cost at least $50,000.

Monroe Public Schools, the county's largest district, agreed to proceed with the study and evaluate the results.

The analysis of busing operations was proposed during meetings of the County Superintendents Association to determine whether cost savings and efficiencies could be achieved by pooling transportation operations.

Don Spencer, ISD superintendent, said having all nine school districts involved was the idea from the beginning.

"The vision was that all schools would participate. I think that will give us the maximum idea of what we could realize if we all work together on this," he said.

"The study is very worthwhile. I think everyone understands that it is important that we do this. We are excited to have Bedford join us in pursuing this. "

A committee of superintendents, transportation supervisors, and business managers has interviewed three firms being considered to conduct the study. A recommendation on the company will be made to the ISD Board of Education on Tuesday.

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