In Columbia on a frigid February morning, students without a ride to school walked.
On sidewalks between high snow banks, they passed art galleries and tattoo parlors, Club Good Times and the National Watch Museum, empty storefronts and charming Victorian homes.
The kids walked because the compact, 1,310-student district doesn’t run buses.
It never has, which in these challenging times for all school districts is a rare financial advantage.
But that and the borough’s deep reservoirs of community spirit are almost the only advantages Columbia’s three public schools have in a battle for financial sustainability.
A proud, riverside town of 10,400, Columbia has the poorest district in Lancaster County, ranking 76th out of 500 in the state. The schools’ financial foundation is cracking, and short of the state stepping in with more funds, there is no relief in sight.
Full story: FAILING IN SLOW MOTION How Economic Decline and Big Needs Are Battering the Columbia Borough School District By Jeff Hawkes, Susan Baldrige &Gil Smart, Lancaster Online, 6/22/14