A group of Easton Area School District parents whose children attend a new charter school sparred with administrators over a math problem Monday night.
The parents, whose children attend the Arts Academy Charter School in Salisbury Twp., Lehigh Co., say the school is 10.1 miles away, which, according to their calculations, is the same as 10 miles -- the maximum distance that the state requires school districts to bus kids to charter schools.
Easton school administrators aren't sure that parents' math is correct. Michael Simonetta, the district's chief operating officer, said his calculations have found that the distance to the school from the highway nearest the district's border is 10.4 to 10.5 miles.
After some spirited debate at the end of Monday night's school board meeting, Simonetta said he would recheck the numbers and the state guidelines and report back to the board in October. Even if the distance does not fall within the state requirement, the board could still decide to provide busing, Simonetta said.
In the meantime, the parents say about 25 children will have to continue to find their own way to and from the charter school.
After the meeting. Simonetta said he had the distance checked three times, and each time it exceeded 10 miles.
Jamie Burg, one of the more vocal parents, said the state guidelines say the distance "is not to exceed 10 miles," which to her means "not
11 miles." She added that "10.1 miles is 10, not 11; 10.3 miles is 10, not 11."
Simonetta said after the meeting he did not know the exact cost of busing the kids to the charter school, but he estimated it would be about $100 a day. "Cost is not a factor," he added. "It's what the state guidelines require."
Burg said when she enrolled her daughter in the 5th grade at the charter school she expected the district would bus her there. She learned otherwise a few weeks before school started, and has been corresponding with Simonetta and the state Department of Education ever since.
Burg said her husband "acts as a bus, and drops off four kids at the academy every day."
She said one of the parents with a child at the charter school sent an email requesting the parents turn out in force at Monday night's board meeting.
The school board members did not respond to the parents. But at the end of the discussion with Simonetta, one of the parents asked the
board: "Beyond the numbers, please think about the kids getting an education."