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August 15, 2007

MMSD Misses Notification Date, Will Again Provide Private School Bus Rides

Anita Clark:

The Madison School District said Tuesday it will provide bus rides for children attending private schools this year because it missed a legal deadline to notify families that the service was ending.

Hoping to save about $229,000, the School Board voted last spring to abolish bus routes that carried 208 children to six Catholic schools.

Instead, the district would pay their parents a transportation subsidy of about $450 per student.

The district has been working this summer with the Catholic Diocese of Madison to help it set up an alternative transportation system, but it did not realize there was an Aug. 4 deadline for notifying parents affected by the change, Superintendent Art Rainwater said Tuesday.

"We were so engrossed, it just went by us, " he said. "The statute is very clear and we did not meet it. "

Michael Lancaster, superintendent of schools for the diocese, said he 's happy that children will be receiving safe rides to school.

"Safety was a huge parental concern and ours as well, ' ' he said.

The financial effect on the district will be evaluated in October when it deals with "hundreds of pluses and minuses ' ' in making final budget adjustments after receiving data on enrollment, state aid and other factors, Rainwater said.

"We really don 't know until October how this fits in," he said.

Much more on last spring's private school busing budget change and commentary.

Perhaps this matter is related to gaining voter support for a 2008 referendum, which was discussed at Monday's Madison School Board meeting:

Approval of Minutes dated April 30, May 7, May 14, May 22, May 29, June 27, July 16 (two sets), 2007
There are no announcements.
Initial Discussion of Potential 2007-08 Referendum.
Susan Troller:
An oversight by the Madison school district's administration means that the prayers of some Catholic school parents have been answered.

The school district announced Tuesday that it must continue to provide yellow school bus service for students at six local Catholic schools through the 2007-08 school year because it missed a deadline for notifying parents that there would be a change in transportation policy.

The Madison School Board voted last spring to eliminate busing for parochial school students and instead provide a stipend of $450 per child so parents can pay the cost of transportation themselves. State statutes mandate that public schools must provide transportation to all students in their districts, even those attending private schools.

According to Superintendent Art Rainwater, the district has been working over the summer with the Catholic Diocese of Madison to establish alternative means of getting parochial students to school, and it inadvertently missed the 30-day legal deadline for notifying individual parents that there would be a change in transportation policy.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at August 15, 2007 12:51 AM
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