The additional, annual transportation cost will be $1,870,994 for all Lakota freshman for the 2020-2021 school year, said district officials.
Under Ohio law, public school districts must also provide busing for students attending non-public schools within a 30-minute drive.
Lakota officials projected this will mean operating an additional 15 bus routes to seven area, non-public schools at an annual cost of $825,439 during next school year.
The total transportation cost increase for 2020-2021 school year will be about $2.7 million, said school officials.
Lakota, which enrolls 16,500 students and is the largest district in Butler County, has an annual operating budget of $177 million.
The 22-school district currently spends more than $12 million on busing about 10,000 students in grades kindergarten through 8th grade.
Ohio requires public school systems to provide busing for K-8 students, leaving the provision of any further busing up to individual districts.
Lakota officials also considered options to restore busing for grades 10, 11, 12 but did not.
The meeting included a prolonged discussion among the board – including members Lynda O’Connor and Todd Parnell expressing concerns about the cost of busing in the district’s projected budget deficit forecast to reach a total of $7.5 million by 2024.
In response to those financial concerns, Lakota Treasurer Jenni Logan proposed the district leadership would come to the board later with a plan to address an initial, projected budget deficit of more than $1 million scheduled to begin in 2022.
Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller said “this is a complex issue and I appreciate the board’s thorough attention to the details presented throughout this process.”
“I am pleased that our fiscal responsibility has enabled Lakota’s board to be in a position to approve busing for freshman students,” said Miller. “Our parents have asked for transportation to be restored for many years and now we are able to deliver.”