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DPS meets with Ohio Board of Ed members to discuss transportation issues

After years of ongoing transportation struggles, there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel for Dayton Public Schools. (WKEF/WRGT)

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - After years of ongoing transportation struggles, there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel for Dayton Public Schools.

Robert Harmon, transportation director with the Ohio Board of Education, met with the Dayton School Board.

"The meeting we just had was quite realistically one of the most productive meetings I've had as a member of the Dayton Board of Education," said member John McManus.

In addition to replacing nearly half of DPS's current bus fleet, Harmon's recommendations were also a reality check, forcing the district to take a hard look at priorities and funding. The board proposed to budget more than $2.4 million to finance 100 new buses.

"I just strive that we cannot wait any longer," said DPS transportation director Michael Rosenberger.

Member Dr. Adil Baguirov expressed frustration, saying it shouldn't have taken this long to act.

"99 percent of these recommendations were made last year," Baguirov said. "We had a consultant in, nothing was done."

Charlotte McGuire also sat in on the meeting. McGuire was appointed to the State Board of Education earlier this year, serving District 3, which includes DPS.

"Even as I heard them talk, I was thinking, what price do we place on a child's life?" McGuire said.

Superintendent Rhonda Corr spoke clearly about the need make immediate changes. The district is already working to update the bell schedule, switching to a 3-tier route system this fall.

"We have to revisit the way we operate our business," Corr said.

Corr proposes reducing ridership, possibly cutting routes, arguing the district is working harder than it can afford. Several other ideas made it to the table, including a look at using RTA passes for 7th and 8th grade. For charter and parochial schools, the district wants to re-time bus routes, asDPS isn't required to pick-up students living beyond a 30-minute ride.

Additionally, drivers currently pick-up students living outside a one and half mile radius of their school. The state only requires pick-up outside a two-mile radius. The board is considering falling back to minimum state standards.

"What I sensed with this board is they want to turn things around," McGuire said.

"I could not be happier," said McManus. "I could not be more optimistic."

Members also discussed the importance of a two-prong approach. New buses are ineffective if the system doesn't run efficiently.

The board agreed to act fast, possibly putting final proposals together before voting on several items at their next board meeting on March 21.

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