Goshen News, Goshen, IN

June 1, 2013

A road to new bus solutions


— This is a situation of that pesky “hidden cost” rearing its ugly head.

In exchange for the capping of state property taxes, which is where most funding for public schools comes from, you get school boards — including Goshen’s — having to make tough choices. On Tuesday, the board voted to make $350,000 worth of slashes and tweaks to the corporation’s transportation budget.

With rules on what money in a corporation’s budget can be spent where, coupled with unfunded mandates, there is seemingly no 11th-hour solution. There’s no magic bullet.

Instead, field trips will no longer be funded. The same goes for band trips and travel for sports teams. More kids will have to walk back and forth to school.

Luckily, Goshen is better equipped than other cities to handle that. There are plenty of sidewalks, and with the exception of the middle school, most schools are situated in our neighborhoods. But safety is still a big concern. Daylight Saving Time remains a contentious topic in Indiana. It looks to be even more so locally with more kids walking to school in the dark.

Also troubling is that now, being involved in extra-curriculars is increasingly punitive. Fundraisers, as parents know all too well, are already part of life as a student-athlete or band member. How many more coupon books will need to be sold now?

So an unintended consequence of these budget cuts may be widening the chasm between the haves and have-nots. For many families living paycheck to paycheck, it’s tough enough to make ends meet. Add busing to the family budget. It may determine whether a kid can play in the band or go out for soccer.

This summer, community meetings will take for the public to learn more about the cuts. It’s unlikely the school corporation can go back on the decisions made during Tuesday’s meeting. So moving forward, it’s incumbent upon the community to rally and find a way to make up for some of these shortfalls.

That can be parents creating car pool groups. It can be creating a scholarship through the community foundation that helps pay the way for those student who otherwise couldn’t.

The easy thing to do would be to collectively throw our hands up in the air and say “What’s done is done.” But how Goshen responds and answers questions of safety and equality for its children could create a template for other communities that will inevitably have to deal with the same challenge.