Shifting Gears

THE SWITZERLAND of Ohio Board of Education is making the most of a tough financial situation.

The board made a decision at Thursday’s meeting that we fully support, as it yields enhanced safety for its student-athletes. Staring at major budget issues, the board of education earlier this year opted to pass a policy that no transportation would be available to the district’s athletic teams.

It was just one part of a district-wide reduction package. Numerous staff and teaching positions were eliminated, curriculum altered and a pay-to-participate policy was implemented.

In defense of the board of education, the no-transportation edict was put forth to reduce the costs of the pay-to-participate. The fee is $100 for junior high and $200 for high school students.

The costs would have escalated as high as $800 if transportation to athletic events was not eliminated. Such a decision obviously sparked much discussion.

No busing to athletic events leads to many safety concerns. Considering some of the lengthy trips that district teams must make (such as Fort Frye, Strasburg etc.), it stands to reason that busing alleviates many headaches.

Without it, there is no guarantee all players would reach their scheduled destination on time, or if at all. What frame of mind would they be in once they did arrive? Where does liability lie in such situations?

The board of education has now amended its earlier busing mandate by allowing booster groups to subsidize transportation to games. The rates for a bus driver will range from $50 to $90 depending on the length of the trip and it will cost $2 a mile compared to 20 cents a mile the board was charging before.

Long trips will undoubtedly prove pricey. Booster organizations will be challenged to underwrite all bus trips. They may have to pick and choose.

The board should be commended for rethinking its earlier busing ban. Bus trips and athletics are intertwined. Unfortunately, the board’s latest decision is not a cure-all and places the burden squarely on boosters.

The adage goes: you cannot put a price tag on safety. We are certain the booster groups in the district will do as much as they can to assist their athletes.

Those support groups, however, can only do so much. We challenge anyone in a position to help, please do so. The best athletic events are the ones when everyone returns home safely.