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Local schools chosen for pilot program, grant


A $250,000 grant will allow schools in Athens and 17 other Southeastern Ohio counties to implement a transportation program, which could spread to the rest of the state.

An Ohio House Bill created the Educational Shared Services pilot program, which was signed by Gov. John Kasich in June, said Patrick Gallaway, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education.

“The program is to fund a pilot project, which we hope to expand statewide,” he said.

The Athens-Meigs Educational Service Center and the six other educational service centers in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Service Center Collaborative applied for the grant money and were chosen by the Department of Education in December, said Center Superintendent Rick Edwards.

“We are excited about the opportunity to help out the districts and work with partners in the region,” he said.

The center provides services and personnel for Athens City, Alexander Local, Eastern Local, Federal Hocking Local, Meigs Local, Nelsonville-York City, Southern Local and Trimble Local school districts, according to its website.

Gallaway estimates that when the plan is fully implemented it will save the region $5 million. Edwards said he hopes to cut the transportation budget by 10 percent.

“The saving would depend on what we are able to use and which vendors for transportation we chose,” he said.

The service centers will look into ways to safe money by buying supplies, such as tires, in bulk and sharing equipment, Edwards said.

The Regional Service Center was chosen because it showed obvious need for the money and the ability to work collaboratively, Gallaway said.

Athens-Meigs and the other centers will work collaboratively to improve transportation and technology for schools in the region, Edwards said.   

Recommendations for a plan must be ready July 1, according to HB 153.

“We are in the planning process and groups have been talking and trying to figure out a plan,” Edwards said, adding that the group is meeting monthly.

If the program is successful in Southeastern Ohio it will be expanded to the rest of the state.

“We are doing the pilot to gain knowledge and hopefully move forward with the program and see if they could work across the state,” Gallaway said.

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