The council approved a resolution May 7 to provide the funds for hazardous busing for students in the district in the 2011-2012 school year—despite concerns from councilman Matthew Moench that the costs should be paid by the district instead.
“We can’t wash our hands of it, and punt it to the school board?” he asked. “How is this the township’s responsibility?”
The resolution authorizes the township to pay $275,751 for hazardous busing needed this school year to take students safely to schools in the district in the cases when it is too dangerous for students to walk.
The cost for the 2010-2011 school year was about $279,000, and the cost in the 2011-2012 school year was about $272,000.
Hazardous busing stems off of courtesy busing provided for students who live within a certain distance from an elementary, middle or high school. The state requires that every child who lives more than a mile-and-half from an elementary school, or two miles from a high school, be bused.
Hazardous busing is provided for those students who would not normally be bused, but who deal with some kind of hazard on the way to school, such as crossing a highway or walking across gaps in the sidewalk.
Moench has expressed concerns over the township paying for this in the past since it deals with something the school district provides.
“This issue has bugged me for years,” he said, voting against the resolution.
Township attorney William Savo said the township pays because it is dealing with municipal roads, lights and other properties, things that the school district has no control over, but that the township can fix.
“The police look at all the walking distances, and if there are hazardous conditions, they provide a memo to that affect,” said township administrator James Naples.
The cost of hazardous busing varies from year to year based on the number of students and other conditions.
Moench has said in the past that he thinks the policy should be relooked at to determine better ways of paying for the service.