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Indiana school district that ended bus routes faces lawsuit

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An Indianapolis woman is suing a suburban school district that has stopped running school buses.

Lora Hoagland filed the lawsuit against the Franklin Township schools this week in a Marion County court.

The district this summer sold its buses to an education cooperative that now provides transportation. Hoagland is disabled, but like thousands of other parents, she drives her two sons to and from school because she can't afford the nearly $50-per-child monthly fee.

The lawsuit first reported by WRTV argues that the cooperative is an agent of the school district and that Indiana's constitution makes it illegal to charge for bus transportation. The attorney general's office is currently reviewing the setup.

Other school districts in Indiana are considering a move similar to Franklin's.

District superintendent Walter Bourke said the school district believes it's on "solid legal ground." He also said a decision against Franklin Township could force the district to eliminate transportation entirely. But he expects legislators next year to consider a law that would require school districts to transport students — a law he said could force struggling districts into bankruptcy if it passes.

That's money many stressed districts just don't have, due in large part to years of heavy spending on building projects followed by property-tax caps passed by the Indiana Legislature in 2008. Schools' transportation budgets, along with school bus replacement and capital projects, are funded entirely from property taxes.

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  • Opinion without facts to back it
    Certainly some schools have overbuilt, but the sweeping statement in the last paragraph isn't supported by the facts. Public schools in Indiana have faced state funding cuts in 14 of the past 20 years, and plenty of districts haven't "overspent on construction" as this writer ham-fistedly implies. Poor journalism.
  • Private buses
    From what I understand, it's not that Franklin TWP has an outside contractor providing bus service, nor that the contractor is charging parents directly - it's that FTCSC "sold" the buses but didn't require the contractor to assume the collateral costs - getting the plates, insurance, USDOT permits, etc. If Franklin township had gone to one of the established contractors, there wouldn't be an issue. (Folks like Mike Sodrel's Student Transit, or Miller Transportation (same outfit that runs the Carmel / Fishers express buses, in fact)... heck, even Durham School Services. It's perfectly legal to have a private contractor operate buses for your school... but there are rules and procedures involved.
  • Hope There is a Class Action
    The last paragraph said it all...they spent too much on bricks and mortar, and in the case of Franklin Twp a multi-million $ football stadium. In the age of mass transit we have a school district going the opposite direction, because they couldn't sneek through a higher tax in an off election time/year (May 2010) and has to live within their means of a Property Tax cap.
  • Is there assistance?
    I agree that it seems like people sue over a lot of stupid things in this state, but I wonder, did this woman take the time to ask for assistance with the bus fee? When I was in school, parents who had a hard time affording food for their kids participated in a free lunch program for their kids. Has a program been established for those lower income families who can't afford the bus fee? I also wonder if this woman works or if she is on government disability, which I'm not a fan of. I knew someone who milked his "disability" for all it was worth his entire life when in truth he could work just fine. My uncle has been in a wheelchair for 20 years and he still works every day..... Just some things to think about.
  • Really?
    Someone suing someone in Indiana?! Really?

    I have lived in this state for 9 years now and see nothing but lawsuits, people waiting on lawsuits and nobody working (because they all survive on suing people).

    I really think $50 a month is a good price to pay considering today's gas prices. That number would also depend on how many students are picked up, how many buses are running. I'm sure the fee could be lowered, but it's easier to just sue someone instead of working to get papers signed and presenting a fair case to the school board.
  • sales tax
    Remember the caps came with (another) increase in Indiana sales tax.

    They told us it would make things more fair.

    They don't tell us where that money went.

    regards
  • Tea Party Ideals
    The old we want a service, but shouldn't have to pay for it. Transportation in an inefficient system is very expensive. This is the cost of driving everywhere, but you externalize or marginalize a lot of costs. This is the system you demanded, so you can pay the price. Remember when the Republicans promised better days because of tax caps......we see them now!

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