Friday, August 17, 2001

Schools may use vans again

Taft temporarily lifts prohibition; debate to continue

By Travis James Tritten
Enquirer Columbus Bureau

        COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Bob Taft ordered the state Thursday to temporarily lift a ban on vans used for school transportation.

        The order will let districts that depend on vans for transporting students to sporting events and other activities continue using the vehicles for 90 days while lawmakers debate their use.

        “The emergency rule is intended to be an interim measure to allow after-school activities to get started as the school year approaches,” Mr. Taft said.

        The prohibition on vans stems from a controversy among state officials over safety requirements. Many think the vehicles are less safe than school buses.

        Cincinnati Public Schools have not used vans for about six years and will not be affected by the measure. But other districts, such as Ross Local Schools in Butler County, do use them.

        The district's golf and tennis teams use them for transportation to and from competitions, said Ross Superintendent Dave McWilliams.

        Mr. McWilliams said that if the state decides to continue the ban after 90 days, it could be a problem for his district, which will have to come up with money for more buses or hire new drivers.

        Meanwhile, the extension will give lawmakers and the Ohio Department of Education more time to work out a legal snafu that unintentionally banned the vehicles.


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