The clock is winding down on the 127th General Assembly's lame-duck session, although lawmakers continue to introduce new bills. Such late entries rarely become law and are more often than not attempts by legislators to appease interest groups or make a political statement. Such seems to be the case with this week's introduction of House Bill 654 by Rep. Clayton Luckie (see here).
H.B. 654 would allow public school districts to "surrender" the transportation of high school students who live within their boundaries but attend charter schools. Under current law, local school districts are responsible for transporting most students who live within their boundaries, including most private and charter school students. Districts do not have to provide transportation for students in grades 9 through 12, but if they provide busing for high school students attending district schools they must do the same for most charter and private high school students. Separate rules exist for children with special needs. Luckie's bill calls for districts to notify charter schools by June 1 of each year whether they will provide high school transportation for them the following year, and it also provides a formula for the state to use to calculate transportation funding for charter schools.
Transportation is a sticky wicket in relationships between districts and charter schools. Busing is expensive, and in cities like Dayton, where charter school students make up 28 percent of the public education market share, the logistics of getting kids to the right schools on time can be a nightmare. H.B. 654 doesn't call for eliminating busing for private high school students and it allows districts to pick and choose which charter schools they will or won't provide busing for. It doesn't feel like an attempt to improve the charter sector or even to ease district transportation woes. Instead, this bill is just another in a line of recent attempts to hamper charter schools-the good and the bad alike-in the Buckeye State and punish parents and students who opt for them (see here, here, and here, to name a few).