The Westlake school board, after further review, has decided to only cut bus service to two private schools not eight for the upcoming school year.

Last month, in a move to save $300,000, the school board announced the bus service cuts, shocking the parents of 174 children in grades K-8.

The school board announced the change in a letter sent to parents dated Aug. 7. In the upcoming school year, the district said that school bus drivers will take daily counts to and from non-public schools. The school district also said that annually it evaluates each of these schools to determine continued bus service.

Following the announcement on July 15, the school board allowed the affected families to choose between a $250 one-time payment as compensation for the cut or to take it to mediation with state school officials.

School officials said 95 of the 177 parents whose children attend the schools affected by the bus service cut rejected the payment option, which convinced them to continue bus service to six of the eight schools.

The district has cut service to St. Brendan in North Olmsted and Albert Einstein Academy in Westlake, which Hopkins said will save the district $36,000.

Parents/guardians who chose the one-time $250 payment will not receive payment because service has been restored.

The district will continue to provide transportation to: Holy Trinity in Avon, Lake Ridge Academy in North Ridgeville, Lakewood Catholic Academy in Lakewood, St. Angela Merici in Fairview Park, St. Christopher in Rocky River and St. Paul Lutheran in Westlake.

Bus service was not changed for Menlo Park Academy, Ruffing Montessori, Al Ihsan/Birchwood, St. Bernadette and St. Raphael schools that were not affected by the previous decision.

“From the very beginning of this we said through this process that we’re not trying to take away transportation if it’s being utilized,” Hopkins said. “It was not solely a look at saving money, it was trying to be more efficient in what we’re doing.”

School officials said they plan to combine routes with the bus service it already provides which, they said would be more efficient and will take daily counts this year to monitor ridership.

“We’re currently analyzing how the combination of the schools together will save us money, but we’re confident it will save us money.” District Treasurer Todd Hopkins said.

School officials cut bus service to save money. The district could do this based on a section of the Ohio Revised Code that allows districts to deny transportation to students if it’s not practical or financially responsible. The bus service was costing the district $300,000.

Efforts to get comments from the affected families were unsuccessful.

Contact this reporter at akamczyc@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797

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