Berlin-Milan board keeps grade school buses running

MILAN It was a near miss for the Jeremay family and hundreds of others in the Berlin-Milan school di
May 24, 2010



It was a near miss for the Jeremay family and hundreds of others in the Berlin-Milan school district.

But while a Wednesday decision to expand busing services will ease their transportation hassles, other families still must figure out how to get their high-school students to school next year.

The Jeremays live a little more than a mile from Milan Elementary. With the district cutting back to minimum busing earlier this month, first-grader Katie would have had to get a ride to school every morning or make the walk along Seminary Road.

"I just don't think you can ask a 6-year-old to walk where there are no sidewalks," mother Amy Jeremay said.

After many similar complaints from parents, the board of education voted Wednesday to rescind the two-mile limit on busing for preschool through eighth grade. The district will return to the previous one-mile limit.

"I'm happy," Jeremay said after the meeting. "I'm very happy because I really think they did take safety into consideration."

For the high school, however, there will still be no busing. For some students, this could mean walking alongside Ohio 113, which has no sidewalks.

It also means 14-year-old sophomore Molly Hohler still doesn't have a plan for getting to school. She lives near Huron, miles from the high school.

"I have a friend who has an older brother, and they live kind of close, so maybe like half the year he can take me, or I think my and his parents are going to switch every other day or something," she said.

Carpooling among teenagers has its own difficulties, though, especially with a state law that bars drivers younger than 17 from transporting more than one non-relative.

Superintendent David Snook said there's enough parking space at the high school to accommodate more student drivers.

Parents have also complained about moving the start time for elementary school up to 7:30 a.m., which will allow the district to consolidate bus routes for the elementary and middle schools.

Jennifer Danda, who has three children in the school system, lives on Elm Street, relatively close to both Milan Elementary and the high school. But getting everyone to school for the same start time could still be a challenge.

"It's going to be a rush to get everyone out of the house," she said.

Snook said even with the changes, the district will realize most of the $125,000-150,000 in savings projected for the harsher cutbacks.

He warned, however, that the buses will be filled to capacity and that "we're not really sure we'll be able to do it for the whole year."

A levy is still needed, district officials say.

Despite the uncertainty and some lingering concerns about middle-school and elementary students riding together, Jeremay is glad to put Katie back on the bus.

"It worked out fine," she said. "She loves the bus. I wasn't sure I wanted to put her on, but she wanted to ride the bus."