Parent airs complaint with Clear Fork school board


By Louise Swartzwalder - Galion Inquirer



CLEAR FORK VALLEY — The school district’s handling of transportation for open-enrolled students going to Clear Fork was questioned by a local resident at the most recent board meeting.

David Fitzsimmons told the board he has a child who is open enrolled, but he and his family were not notified until two days before the start of school about a bus pick-up location.

Under the open-enrollment system, school districts may decide whether they want to accept students from another district for the next school year. This allows a student to attend school tuition-free in the district chosen. The system is monitored by the Ohio Department of Education.

Fitzsimmons said he was notified by the bus garage that his child — who received transportation last year — would not be given the service this year along the same route. He said he understood a district does not have to transport open-enrolled students by law. But he said he and other parents of open-enrolled students find it upsetting when they are informed so close to school’s opening day that there were changes.

Fitzsimmons said he has other children who are enrolled in a different district, so transporting one child to Clear Fork and two others to a different district make for a difficult situation.

Superintendent Janice Wyckoff said the school district is growing, and some residents didn’t receive notice about bus routes until 3 p.m. the day before school started.

Lisa Yarger, transportation director, said Fitzsimmons and other open-enrollment families were offered two bus stops. Fitzsimmons said that didn’t work for him because the distance to the alternative pick up spot is nearly identical to the distance to drive to school. Yarger said she had to reroute two buses, and that action came late, just before opening started.

Fitzsimmons said he thought the district should have a firmer idea of students enrolled and their transportation needs earlier. He objected to the last-minute notice. He said open-enrolled students bring value to the classroom, are valuable in athletics and help the district financially.

Board president Amy Weekley apologized for the misunderstanding, and said the district values all open-enrolled students.

Libby Nickoli, principal Butler Elementary School, told the board students will participate in at the Butler Applefest in October. Also, there will be a family literacy night at the school Oct. 5.

Clear Fork High School principal Brian Brown told the board 11 students have signed up for an EMT/Firefighter program, being started by the Jefferson Township Volunteer Fire Department. That department — along the the Knox Technical Center — approached the school to ask them to offer the course, and allow students to get high school credit.

Also, the board approved sale of playground equipment from the old Butler building to be used in Frances Hitchman Park in Butler for $1.

By Louise Swartzwalder

Galion Inquirer