by Alan Hodge

When an individual or family or business finds it necessary to trim expenses to fit them into constrained circumstances, the common practice is to begin by eliminating what is least important. Luxuries go first, then the things that are merely nice to have. What’s really important is cut only as a last resort. One might suppose the Loveland

Alan Hodge lives in Symmes Township off of Enyart Road

School District would take a similar approach. One might be wrong. In a recent “Protect Our Progress” mailing under the heading “What happens if this levy fails?” the second item reads: “Elimination of high school busing, including non-public routes.”

What are we to make of this statement? If busing high school students is not necessary (and can, therefore, be cut), why was the District spending money on it in the first place? That does not seem to be a responsible and prudent use of available funding, and it does not reflect favorably on the District’s financial management. It would be eminently sensible to eliminate busing so that its costs could be diverted to items of higher priority.

On the other hand, if busing high school students is necessary, what are the consequences of eliminating it? One consequence, presumably, is that students who depend on buses to get to school would no longer be able to get to school. While this might be considered an unfortunate outcome for the affected students, it would certainly help alleviate any overcrowding that the school is suffering from.

Another consequence is that by eliminating high school busing, the District can protect the “Progress” that it obviously deems more important. Of what does that “Progress” consist? According to the same mailing, it consists of “expanding course offerings by over 40 new courses in science, technology, engineering, and math; all while improving reading outcomes, counseling, safety, and technology for our students.” Good heavens! Were the school’s offerings so inadequate that over 40 (over 40!) new STEM courses were — and still are — required for progress? However, did the District earn its “Excellent” rating priors to 2014? Nevertheless, the new courses must surely be good for “our students”; but if the levy fails, we should understand “our students” to mean only those students who are still able to attend high school. Nothing in the mailing suggests that the failure of the levy will jeopardize, preclude or reduce the number of new courses, so it is obviously more important to the District to have them than it is to ensure that its students can get to school in the first place.

So what are we to conclude? That the District’s definition of “Progress” has more to do with offering “over 40 new courses”, etc., than with serving the fundamental needs of all its students? And that it is willing, in effect, to abandon (or at least create hardship for) some portion of its student population in order to protect that “Progress”? Or that the District has been providing high school busing (for how long?) when there was no need for it, and will be forced to stop this unnecessary expenditure (i.e., waste) of funding if the levy fails? Or that the District is merely trying to bully those members of the community who depend on high school busing into voting for the levy by threatening to make life difficult for them if they don’t?

Let’s call it as it is. The threat to eliminate high school busing is at best a bogeyman intended to scare some voters into supporting the levy and at worst a cynical and perverse expression of the District’s priorities. Make no mistake about the latter: the kids definitely do not come first. They are a distinct second to the glitzy window dressing that the District chooses to call “Progress.” No matter how you look at it, the school board and the administration should be embarrassed about their attempt to rally support for the levy by threatening to eliminate high school busing. It is a shameful way for them to treat the community of which they claim to be a part.

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