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WALLED LAKE • FARMINGTON • NOVI • CANTON • TROY • STERLING HEIGHTS
or Rabbi Nathaniel Lauer,
the fact that the Southfield
buses would not make runs
to Bais Yaakov anymore
was more than a professional
quandary; it was a personal
As educational director of
Yeshiva Beth Yehudah's girls
school, he now had to find a so-
lution for the parents of several
students who no longer had a
way to and from school.
But as a parent, he also had to
work out plans for his two
daughters, both students at the
"We hope to have something
available to the students and we
are exploring the possibilities,"
said Rabbi Lauer, noting that
school starts the day after Labor
Rabbi Lauer is among a group
of about 20 Bais Yaakov parents
who aired their concerns about a
recent public-school transporta-
tion budget cut at the Southfield
school-board meeting last
Prior to the budget cut, stu-
dents who lived in the Southfield
district but attended Bais Yaakov
in Oak Park as well as those who
went to Brother Rice and Mari-
an high schools in Birmingham
were given out-of-district trans-
portation to and from the private
schools, a service no other pub-
lic-school system in the area pro-
According to state law, a school
system is obligated to transport
any student who lives within the
district boundaries and attends
classes, private school included,
within those borders. The law
also stipulates that the districts
can set limits on how far a child
is expected to walk to school, but
that distance cannot be greater
than 1 1/4 miles.
However, a school district is
not required to bus children who
live within the district to private
schools located outside of those
The Southfield school district
provides education and services
to over 9,200 students in its dis-
trict on a budget of $86.4 million.
A little more than $4 million of
that budget was allocated last
year to transportation. Of that
amount, about $50,000 was spent
ferrying children to private
schools located out of the South-
field school district.
In the past five years, the
school district has grappled with
financing, in large part due to
Proposal A, a measure which
changed the way public schools
are financed in the state.
Because of limited funds and
an inability to increase its rev-
enues, the district has clipped
portions of the budget. Part of the
trimmings included the elimina-
tion of 180 positions, the ele-
mentary instrumental music
program and administrative of-
"There were parents who came
to the meeting who thought they
were being singled out," said
Kenson Siver, spokesperson for
the Southfield Public Schools.
"But this is one part of a contin-
uing tightening of the budget.
"The approximate savings
(from this cut) would mean that
we would have to run one less
bus," he said. "That $50,000 is
equal to one teacher's salary."
Because of state law, the stu-
dents who attend Akiva Hebrew
Day School, Yeshiva Beth Yehu-
working on a
dah and Darchei Torah would
not be affected by the cuts. Par-
ents of Darchei Torah children
who live out of Southfield's
district must pay $600 per child
per year for private bus service
or provide their own transporta-
Oak Park Schools do not pro-
vide bus service to Bais Yaakov
students because most of them
live within the 1 1/4 mile radius
from the girls school.
"My kids lived two houses
away from the 1 1/4 mile mark
and they still had to walk," said
Joyce Zack, president of the Oak
Park School Board.
According to Mr. Siver, prin-
cipals of the schools affected by
the cut were informed of the
transportation change six to eight
weeks ago. Bais Yaakov parents,
however, were not informed of
the change until last week.
Rabbi Lauer said many of the
students who attend his school
walk to and from classes. Anoth-
er portion engage in carpools and
a smaller number take the
"I am very thankful for what
Southfield schools have done in
the past and hope that we will be
able to work together with them
sometime in the future," Rabbi
Lauer said. ❑