In a public referendum on Feb. 25, Baldwin voted to reduce the distance its schoolchildren will be bused in 2013-14. The final tally was 614 votes in favor of reducing busing and 416 votes to maintain the current plan.
The turnout, 1,030 voters, was not substantial. District spokeswoman Cristina Schmohl estimated that around twice that number of voters generally weigh in on the district’s annual budgets, and more than 6,200 Baldwin residents turned out for December’s referendum on the dissolution of Sanitary District 2. Schmohl and her fellow administrators were pleased with the results of the election, however, estimating that the schools could now move nearly $1 million in transportation costs back into educational programming.
“There are no changes on the expense side of the budget,” explained Ed Cullen, assistant superintendant for business. “We are realigning … a $1 million decrease in transportation, and adding elementary arts and music, clubs and athletics back into the budget.”
How will busing differ next year?
Baldwin’s bus services in 2013-14 will still fall within state minimums. The State Education Department mandates that children in kindergarten through eighth grade be bused to school if they live more than two miles away, and those in grades nine to 12 must be transported from outside three miles. The plan for Baldwin next year will approach these minimums, but there will still be a one-mile cushion at the high school grades (see chart above). Special education students, as well as students who need transportation for Individualized Education Programs, will not be affected by the busing changes.