NY Amish school bus controversy

A controversy has erupted in a small New York Amish community (near Marathon in Cortland County, 1 hr S. of Syracuse) over busing of Amish schoolchildren.

New York state law requires busing to be provided to private school students as well as those attending public schools. This would include the local Amish community.

amish school busThe issue has to do with Amish kids mixing with non-Amish children.  Amish parents wish their children to be bused separately. Local authorities are saying no.  From the Syracuse Post-Standard article:

Last school year, the district did provide separate busing for Old Order Amish. In the fall, a new school superintendent and the Marathon school board refused to make special bus runs for nearly 55 Amish students. It’s expensive and sets a bad precedent, school officials say. The district has offered to bus Amish and non-Amish students together.

The Amish aren’t happy. Amish parents say they don’t want their children influenced by non-Amish culture — things like clothing and technology and language. They fear their children would be bullied over differences, such as dress: black slacks, jackets and hats for boys and simple long dresses and bonnets for girls.

And they want to be bused at different times. Amish school days start later, after farm chores, and Amish say their children can’t make the district’s early bus runs. Amish don’t observe daylight-saving time, which further throws off scheduling, said John Byler, 36, an Amish father of eight.

A couple of things struck me.  First, it’s unusual to find Amish children being driven to Amish parochials schools by public buses. Off the top of my head, it happens in communities in Indiana, and I’m not sure where else.  Some Amish children do ride school buses to public schools, but that is a different situation.

Most Amish children walk, scooter, bike, or take horse-drawn transport to their parochial schools.  Those schools are typically within close proximity to their homes.  The total number of Amish schools in North America is fairly similar to the total number of Amish church districts.  If an Amish community is, say, 10 church districts in size, you’ll probably find around 10 Amish schools there.

Amish schools rarely exceed 2 rooms, maintaining a small scale and meaning new schools must be built as a community grows.  When Amish children travel to school, they will take less-traveled, safer routes if they are a reasonable option, which may mean walking across fields, for instance.  In some cases, as when a family lives somewhere requiring travel along busy roads, children go to school with a hired English driver.

School dangers

In the Marathon community, school access complicates things.  Weather is a factor, with harsh upstate NY winter conditions creating danger.  Children must travel a busy highway to get to at least two of the area’s three schools.

The school board notes the danger, with this quote from president Floyd Parker: “When the snow’s blowing, it ain’t safe…The last thing we want is for any one of their kids to get hurt. That road is treacherous, especially where their school is.”

ny amish school busingStill, it seems unusual to read about an Amish community’s “demand” for separate busing (article title: “Cortland County town of Marathon split over Amish community’s demand for separate school buses”).

My first thought on reading this was that I’d expect the Amish at some point to back down and find an alternate means of transport, as it seems they have been doing (English sympathetic to their situation have been volunteering to drive the Amish children).  Parker notes strife over the issue in Marathon: “This community is as divided as much on this as anything in the 50 years I’ve lived here.”

Use of “demand” may simply reflect local attitude and reaction to the controversy, which has persisted for at least the past three months.  While there is typically goodwill towards Amish neighbors (and which still seems to be the case among a sizable contingent in Marathon), real allowances made for Amish and other religious minorities–sometimes combined with misconceptions–can lead to resentment among non-Amish.

That said the Amish in question may really feel entitled to separate busing in exchange for their tax dollars and economic contribution to the community.  The article notes how the influx of Amish has been an economic boon to the area.  Amish have also taken an active approach, pressing their case at school board meetings.

Compromise possible?

What about compromise?  In other NY communities, agreements have been reached–transporting Amish and non-Amish children together, for instance, but refraining from playing the bus radio during those times.

New York’s Amish population is quite diverse, ranging from fairly progressive to quite conservative.  I don’t know much about the Cortland County group.  But it is probably on the more conservative side (one indication: the Cortland County group uses off-site cooling stations rather than cooling milk on their own property, a sign of a more technologically conservative church Ordnung).  This may make such deals less acceptable.


This case leads to some interesting questions.  It’s another example of a religious minority group’s values clashing with those of the majority culture, which we’ve seen often over the past few years (ie, over the SMV triangle or electronic tax filing).

Should Amish, especially conservative Amish, even mix to this degree with “the world”, by accepting public transport (even though they may pay school taxes)?

If so, should they pay an extra fee of some sort to offset the additional cost of busing?

Should local government do more to accommodate the Amish, who have obviously benefited the area economically?

Photo credits: Stop sign-Christina’s Play Place/flickr; school bus-Gary Brown/flickr

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    1. I rode a public school bus for twelve years,and I would think the Amish parents are right to want to avoid having their own children shielded from the rough and tumble, unmonitored environment. There is also the matter of the farm hours that Amish children keep, and that working with their parents is part of their education. It suggests that the new superintendent hasn’t much experience with farm families. Perhaps the Amish will have to hire a private bus company instead.

      1. glen k

        in wisconsin




        GLEN K.

        1. George

          In New York State

          Quoting from NY Education Law
          EDN Title 5 Article 73 Part 3

          Start quote

          § 3635. Transportation. 1. * a. Sufficient transportation facilities including the operation and maintenance of motor vehicles)shal be provided by the school district

          for all the children residing within the school district to and from the school they legally attend, who are in need of such transportation because of the remoteness of the school to the child or for the promotion of the best interest of such children.

          Such transportation shall be provided for all children attending grades kindergarten through eight who live more than two miles from the school which they legally attend and for all children attending grades nine through twelve who live more than three miles from the school which they legally attend and shall be provided for each such child up to a distance of fifteen miles, the distances in each case being measured by the nearest available route from home to school.”
          end quote

          Link to § 3635

          Since the Amish children are not attend school beyond eight grade the two mile rule applies.


    2. Roberta

      NY school bus controversy

      First, I agree that children absolutely should not be walking on the shoulder of the road up here in the winter. Someone had better come up with a compromise.

      But there’s nothing that pulls a small town apart better than telling us that you don’t want your kids mixing with our kids.

    3. angelfancy

      Comment on NY Amish school bus controversy

      I read this article on another news site yesterday. I was not surprised to read that the Amish would want their children seperated from the other children. From what I understood the Amish are fairly new to that area, but I also understand that they have also improved that area. The bought up farms that had been abandon and we left to rot. I also read that it would cost for the separated bus is somewhere in the 68,000 dollar range a school year. That seems a bit high to me. The Amish run their own schools so any of their school tax, which I am guessing would be in their property tax would be going to the public schools not their own school. Could the not just use the Amish land owners school tax towards the bus and then have the Amish pay the difference?

      What upset me the most about the other news site was the comments from people that I read? A lot of them were saying things like the Amish don’t care about their children so why should they care so much about this. One comment I read was about how the Amish just use their children as slaves and that they break ever child labor law that there is. Huh?! Why because they make their children due chores? I was surprised by how many people actually agreed with this persons comment. Just floored me!! It just went to prove that people really don’t have a problem commenting on something they know nothing about.

      1. Tami

        couldn't agree more with the last comment

        I was appalled at the comments. I think that some people know in their hearts that they’re raising their children with a skewed sense of priorities and anything that might make them question that become fodder for hate in their minds. Anyone who has ever had a two year old knows that nothing makes them happier than to “help” their parents do a job. The difference between the Amish and most of us “English” is that while we don’t always have time to let that continue, they encourage it and their children grow up knowing it’s an honor to help and part of being part of the family. Much the way our grandparents were raised. They are together working to make a life, not just going to the mall to spend money on things that will make them feel better about themselves. There were times I wouldn’t let my children ride the bus, as bullying does go on, I don’t blame them for being worried about that. They have added so much to our commusnity and the economic benefits far outweigh the cost of a bus ride. They fail to mention that this school has, I forget whether it’s 3 or 4 extra busses. That is busses we don’t use! They just think we need them incase one breaks down! How much do you think that cost the tax payers?? It’s true the superintendent knows nothing about rural farm life and that just encourages the haters. Very sad.

    4. Kim

      Comment on NY Amish school bus controversy

      I live in upstate NY, west of the controversy area.
      Your article is very thought provoking.
      If they cannot afford to hire a private bus, why don’t they move the school away from the busy highway, and use a different location that is safer for the children.
      Your article mentioned that often the number of churches coincides with the number of schools, and that they are very small in size, so a possible solution would be for the Amish to build another school building so that the children near that unsafe highway could attend school in a safe location.
      Problem solved.

      1. Move the Amish school?

        Kim, I also wondered about the location selected for the school(s). Sometimes, in larger Amish communities especially, you see schools near busier roads, but that probably has something to do with the population density in those communities.

        I don’t know the layout of this community, but yes it seems like that ought to be an option, especially since this is a more rural area. Of course, moving the school or building a new one will cost money too.

        1. George

          Marathon Amish School Bus Controversy



          This link indicates the present location of two school buildings.
          One of the buildings is rented from a Non-Amish farmer.
          The other building belongs to the Amish settlement.

          It makes no difference where one were to relocate these buildings.
          Amish farmsteads are on both sides Rt 211.

          State Highway 221 is the problem. It is used by fast moving tractor trailers carrying loads of salt from a mine near Lansing, NY at Cayuga Lake on their way to I-81 (Marathon, NY exit).

          In addition there is a large undergound storage facility (caverns) at the western end of Rt 221 adding to the numbers of fast moving tractor trailers.

          Aggravating the situation are the very narrow shoulders (a few feet). The Amish buggies have to take up the entire lane travelling at 4-5 miles per hour.

          Due to the windings in the road (not uncommon in hilly terrain) it results in very poor visibility.

          The drivers of the salt trucks are independent truckers and always in a hurry. Time is money. The gas trucks are a bit slower but not much.

          It is a miracle that thusfar none of the Amish kids have come to be harmed.

          There is another school located on the East side of Interstate RT 81. It belongs to the same settlement but the access is a rural county highway.


          1. Minimize time on 221

            Thanks for the link George, I checked that out. Yes it sounds like as in other Amish communities the busy road is going to be a danger that just has to be dealt with.

            But in theory if there are a number of schoolchildren living on both sides of the roads, the schools might be located somewhere else which was accessible perhaps by a country lane or by traversing fields, ie you could have one school, set off the road on a parcel of farmland, say for kids north of 221, the other for those on the south side?

            I am not arguing that is what should be done in this case, but if you could minimize the travel time for children on 221 it seems like it could help. Buggies would still have to use it to travel, but that is a somewhat different issue.

      2. sarah

        @kim… regarding the placement of the schools… they do have the schools off the main road, however to understand the problem, you must understand the layout of this town. the amish are spread apart. there is quite a distance between most houses. while they tried to put the schools in centralized locations, there are still relatively long distances to tranvel. most traveling requires using the main road. it’s just the way the roads are that make it this way…

    5. John Stoltzfus

      Our Children's Busing Story

      Public Busing has been a controversy for many years and one of the arguments has been that if we allow the “State” to bus our children to school, it could open up a situation where we could be subject to the “State” requirements in the future.

      Our first child (out of 5), started 17 years ago and what we did is hire our Mennonite neighbors to take our children to school and this worked quite well for 7 years and then a couple of parents didn’t have students anymore and it would have been a lot more out around to take our children.

      Than we were forced to either hire a driver to and from school or look at the possibility of Public School busing.

      So,six years ago I contacted the local school district here and ask them about busing our children and they came back with a schedule close to the one in the story. At the time we had one girl in 8th grade and the following year we would have had a son going to first grade…..

      When our second daughter was in 8th grade and she took the scooter (2 miles) every day, except raining/snowy days etc…. One day when it was raining a elderly gentleman, (Gene) stopped her and asked if he could give her a ride home, which she refused, so he stopped in and talked to my wife for permission. So every time it rained or snowed he would pick her up.

      The following year our oldest son started school and since he had to go alone Gene offered to take him back and forth to school for the term. The next term Gene wanted to only do it in the morning so we were forced to either hire a driver or again check into public busing so I contacted the Head of Transportation in our district and let him know what our situation is. We were surprised with the response, as there were special ed students, (English), in our area that they used a van to bus those children, the first year they agreed to take our son home in the afternoon. The next year we asked to have him taken back and forth to school everyday.

      When we started this there were a few parents that kind of hinted that we shouldn’t use Public Busing, however the next year they asked me if I could set it up that their children could go along.

      So as of today our school district brings all but two children to school and those two are out of our district….. They use a 8 or 10 passenger van and they need to make two trips.

      The main part in this service is to make sure that you send personal letters requesting the assistance and also sending another personal letter thanking them for the service.

      In one of our other schools they had issues with the School District busing their children, the biggest difference was;
      Contacting the right person and doing it in a profession way and than thanking them. One of the main reasons the district stopped busing their children was there were a few out spoken parents that called in and complained or demanded something, which created a situation where the District didn’t want to deal with it.

      Our School Society Board in our area subsidizes the transportation, and this money is part of our School Tax, however it is still expensive for each family.

      Again, most areas use this service if it is available, because of the costs involved and yes we pay double taxes for our children’s’ education. If you compare our school taxes with some of the other Church’s (Mennonite..), we have a very reasonable tax rate. Our taxes are raised in a Church School Tax and we have a Benefit Auction in our area every summer.



      1. Requesting public busing

        John thanks for sharing this account. I did speak with a Lancaster Amish friend today and he mentioned something about such busing being made available on a request basis.

        But he also said he felt that in most cases it wouldn’t be necessary due to the proximity of Lancaster Amish schools, or those that do need it would arrange for a driver as you did. I can see how having motor vehicle transportation would probably be a more desired option in smaller, more spread-out communities and especially in those with lower Amish populations where drivers aren’t used to having children walking or scootering on the shoulder of the road.

        It was interesting to hear how you worked this out with the district though. Sounds like some common courtesy goes a long way. Also that it sounds like people’s opinions warmed to the idea after you gave it a go.

    6. Tom

      Off topic


      But this is a link to a foxnews story on the buggy controversy in Kentucky

    7. George

      Marathon Amish Schoolbus Controversy

      The Marathon Central School District provided separate transportation during the 2010-2011 school year.

      The Amish like all property owners in the Marathon Central School District receive a school tax bill in the beginning of the month of September each year.

      The bill includes a levy for the public library.

      The tax rate for the September 2011 school tax is $27.776817 per thousand dollars assessed value.

      The tax rate for the Peck Memorial Library, Main Street, Marathon NY is $0.387814 per thousand dollars assessed value.

      The minutes of the school board can be read online at:

      Two BOE meetings took place since the last posted minutes of October 26, 2010. No minutes have been posted since.

      If 60 children were added to the student body it would cost the Marathon CSD a considerable amount in added teacher salaries.
      If any special education were to be needed the bill would be higher.

      The neighboring school district of Whitney Point, NY posts a cost per mile of $1.63 per mile.
      The cost ($69,000) of the MCSD Amish Schoolbus quoted seems high.

      In January of each year we get a tax bill for County, Town and Village taxes. For that we (including the Amish) receive road maintenance, snow plowing etc. Fair deal.

      As it stands the Marathon Amish Community receives NOTHING in return for their school tax dollars.

      To many of the tax payers in this community (myself included) that seems unfair.

      George Vanderwoude

      1. sarah

        @george… i feel the $69000 is quite inflated. my understanding is the come up with that total cost by including bus driver’s benefits. to me, that is double dipping as they did not have to hire on additional drivers. the drivers transporting those kids were already receiving benifits!

        1. George Vanderwoude

          Cost of bus run

          @sara If I were to assume that the cost per mile for the Marathon CSD is about the same as the cost per mile of the neighboring Whitney Point School District then the $69,000 total cost appears to be inflated. I would like to know what the cost per mile for the MCSD adds up to.

          George Vanderwoude

          1. sarah

            @george…i’m notsure where i would find the cost per mile. i wonder if this is somethig i could request from the school board or the transportation dept?

    8. Nic

      NY Amish school bus controversy

      I’m not sure about the educational options/restrictions etc…but why don’t they just ‘homeschool’ … teach as they go throughout their days; plenty of amazing conservative curriculum, Rod n Staff by the Mennonite groups for example, which plenty of us Protestants even use bc of its basic core of ‘it happened bc God made it that way’.

      1. A few Amish do homeschool Nic but it is a quite small percentage.

    9. Tom

      I am in the Marathon area every week from spring to fall making deliveries to a customer. My customer’s wife was excited to have the Amish move into the area because of the resulting increase in the school age population in the school district. New York State pays school districts based on total head count of school age children. The roads and weather In Marathon are not safe for young children to walk to school.
      In the summer of 2010 I was at a barn raising and spoke with many English folks who saw the Amish folks as a plus to their community. One English couple sold their farm to two Amish brothers which had been in the man’s family for 180 years. At first I would think that this would be hard to do. None of his family wanted to continue to farm and the sale was the only way to see the land remain a farm. Many local folks enjoy seeing barns going up instead of falling down.
      Angelica New York transports Amish students on “short buses” separate from English students. In Conewango some Amish students who live on the fringe of the community are bused with English students. Years ago I saw Amish students getting off buses that also transported English students.
      If I was the school superintendent I would thank my lucky stars and provide busing to the Amish and happily collect school taxes and state reimbursement.

    10. George

      Amish kids and Non Amish kids on the same bus is not a good idea.
      The Non Amish kids use the F word frequently; not to mentiom some other choice words.
      Hopefully, some one has a bright idea to have Amish kids in the same bus only.
      Unfortunately, those in charge of making decisions, couldn’t care less, after all, their kids aren’t Amish, are they?

    11. Barb

      And yet again, the Amish think they are entitled to special treatment because they are Amish.

      Property owners pay school taxes, whether they have children or not, whether they choose to send their children to public schools or private/parochial/home school. It is incorrect to think of the Amish as “not getting anything for their school tax dollars”, because they, like non-Amish parents who send their children to a private school, have elected to not avail themselves of the “free public education provided to all children.” Many non-Amish people pay school taxes and “get nothing for their school tax dollars”.

      Part of that “free public education” is transportation. I remember when “private and parochial school children” did not get transportation to school — it was not available. I, as a parent, have a choice — I can allow my child to ride the school bus provided by the district, or I can provide and pay for alternate transportation. Many non-Amish parents have elected to not have their children ride the bus — as evidenced by the long lines of drop off/pick up cars before and after school at any elementary building. Do those non-Amish parents who do not want their children riding the provided school bus feel they can “demand” a private bus for their children? No! But the Amish feel they can make such a demand, just because they are Amish, and in their mind, deserve special treatment.

      In my opinion, all parents and children should be treated the same — whether they are Amish or non-Amish. A district provided bus is available. It is up to each parent to decide if their child will ride that bus. The Amish are free to say no to the provided transportation, just as any parent can say no to the provided bus.

    12. George

      Barb – I partially agree with you.
      Let’s put it this way, if you were Amish, would you want your kids to hear the F word every other minute on a school bus with non
      Amish kids?

    13. Lattice

      Barb, the point you made was exactly the point I wanted to make. My children attend a private Christian school, however, I still have to pay the public school taxes. That’s life.

      The fact that the bus service used to be provided to the Amish and is now being discontinued is probably more upsetting than if it had never been offered.

      Our bus rates are $1,000/yr per student.

      Perhaps Amish parents would be surprised by their children’s responses to riding to school with English children. If the English children behave as badly as they fear they will, their own children will likely come to the conclusion that all the bad things they’ve heard about English kids is precisely true!

      1. George Vanderwoude

        Marathon School Bus Transportation


        “The fact that the bus service used to be provided to the Amish and is now being discontinued is probably more upsetting than if it had never been offered.

        Right on.

        George Vanderwoude

        P.S. Some other posts written by “George” are not mine.

    14. Barb

      George – I am not Amish and I don’t want my children hearing the f word. Being Amish would not change that. They have the same choice I do — don’t send my/our children on the bus if it’s that bad. Why should the children of Amish parents be treated differently than the “clean speaking” children of non-Amish parents.

      Lattice — I like your reasoning.

    15. Tom-GA

      Amish School Bus Controversy

      Some thoughts on the subject: Schools provide buses and drivers for athletic teams, bands, cultural events, field days, students with disabilities, sometimes special ed students and others activities. It seem a small thing with the conditions what they seem to be to provide transportation for the Amish students. It also probably would not require a regular (max. seat )bus.

    16. Ed

      Jewish Community in upstate NY with similar issues

      There is another community in New York State that has dealt with similar issues. Kiryas Joel (website: http://www.kjvoice.com/ ) is a community founded and populated by Hasidic Jews. Like the Amish, the Hasidim have found both staunch defenders and strong detractors from neighboring communities. Like the Amish, most Hasidic kids attend private schools, but in Kiryas Joel a public district exists entirely for the small number of children with special education needs. Unlike the Amish, the Hasdim have a near-100% participation in elections, and the town has used the courts to sue other jurisdictions.

    17. Ed

      My take

      George said–
      “Let’s put it this way, if you were Amish, would you want your kids to hear the F word every other minute on a school bus with non
      Amish kids?”

      I personally don’t want to hear the “F word” and don’t want my kids cussing. But these words exist, and some people invariably use them. My kids will have the vocabularly and ability to express themselves without resorting to such gutter talk, not because I’m raising them in a bubble, but rather, because they will know what language is appropriate in different situations and know that foul language will not impress anyone in our house.

      Personally I don’t see how a special bus for only Amish students could be created or allowed to continue at a public school system in America. Unless the school district is going to allow special bussing for any group that requests it (such as Buddhists, Jews, Pescetarians, etc…) there is no reason not to transport kids together, along whatever route is most efficient in getting the kids from home to school. And as adults they all will be interacting in the community together, why not on the bus?

      It sounds like this is mostly an issue of fear. Not all “English” kids use the F word or misbehave on busses. If they do, the parens should demand that rules be enforced. If parents are dead-set againt their kids mingling with other kids on a school bus, then they should arrange alternative transportation.

    18. George

      Unfortunately, many parents use the F words themselves…in front of their kids!
      Many parents do not raise their kids like they use to in the 50’s.
      Not only that, they don’t know how to raise them.
      I know, I worked with kids from babies to teenagers for many years and still do; I love to work with kids.
      Many of us have disagreements what’s right or not regarding the school bus issue.
      I, for one, am on the side of the Amish, and no I am not Amish.
      We all have our different opions, and that’s ok, because that’s life.
      I certainly respect your opinions. I am giving you mine, that’s all.

    19. George

      Tom – from GA
      I agree with you! Great point!

    20. George Vanderwoude

      It's about the kids

      We can endlessly debate who is right or who is wrong, whether a compromise is in order and who should compromise.

      The Marathon, NY Amish settlement is a new settlement and I am guessing (“guessing” with emphasis) that the availability of school bus transportation in the 2010-2011 school year may have played a role in a decision to relocate here from the Smicksburg, PA area.

      The Amish in our area are very conservative. Dairy herds of 20 cows. Milking by hand limits the size of the herd. No electricity.

      Amish people set themselves apart from the “world” through the clothing they wear, means of transportation, level of education and continued use of the German language.

      One has to keep in mind that the Amish adhere to a LITERAL interpretation of the Bible.

      Romans 12:2 (“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”) and 2 Corinthians 6:14 (“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness and what communion hath light with darkness?”.

      These passages are interpreted literally.

      This literal interpretation forbids marriage with outsiders, connecting to the electrical grid or to the telephone system, etc.

      The “Ordnung” of our Amish allows use of the phone of consenting neighbors but prohibits the use of cell phones.
      Don’t offer the use of your cell phone which I did recently.


      They don’t condemn the Non-Amish children they just ask that they are given the freedom to raise their children as they deem proper according to their “Ordnung”.

      The Board of the Town of Lapeer has asked the Marathon School Board of Education to reinstate separate busing based on the grave danger on Rt 221.

      The fact that is indisputable is the danger of having Amish buggies loaded with children travelling Route 221 or walking the very narrow shoulders of this highway.

      George Vanderwoude

    21. Barb

      The Amish do have the right to raise their children as they culturally wish — their desire to end schooling with 8th grade, and being allowed to do that, illustrates their freedom. What they don’t have the right to do is require people in “the world” to pay for their wishes — which is what they are requesting with their demand/desire for separate buses.

      Yes, it is all about the children — ALL of the children, not just those who think they deserve special treatment. I do not wish my child to ride the school bus, so I join the line of other “worldly parents” who do not wish their children to ride the provided bus at school drop off/pick up each day. The Amish are free to behave in the same manner, providing their own alternate transportation that adheres to their ordnung.

    22. Tami

      small towns

      George, That indisputable fact in your last paragraph says it all. You can argue philosophy all you want, but what’s missing is the fact that in this particular case, we’re talking about a small one stoplight town where everybody knows everybody. If I choose to walk to town here, I’m offered at least a couple of rides before i get there. If I go in a ditch, the neighbors will come out and pull me out instead of just calling the police. Our public school kids were still singing Christmas carols at the annual concert where the chorus director said “that’s what’s nice about a small town, you could never get away with this anyplace else” We’re that old school small town that still cares about their neighbors and we take care of our own, No matter what religion or lack thereof they practice. Those Amish kids are our neighbors, they are a part of us and our small town now and they’re placed in a dangerous situation while we argue semantics. There are alternatives. Others have already talked about the differences in the cost vs benefits them being here. Nobody is demanding anything, all we’re being asked to do is understand their culture, I don’t think that’s so much to ask.

      1. sarah

        @tami… well said 🙂

    23. anonymous

      I’m very familiar with the Marathon area. Ever since the Amish first began buying properties there, I’ve been surprised by the choices they’ve made. Their land is on both sides (east and west) of Interstate Rt. 81, as well as on both sides (north and south) of Rt.221. So much of the current problem could have been avoided if they had settled closer to each other, and not on all four sides of the 81-221 intersections in town….

      1. Anonymous,

        Do you think that they could have bought land wherever they set their sights?
        Those that want to farm need 100 acres of land with about 60 to 70 tillable acres so they can maintain a herd of 20 dairy cows.

        The Marathon Amish also like to have a wood lot.
        Some have bought smaller parcels but several of those are looking to buy larger parcels so they can farm it.


    24. sarah

      this is the new commuity i have grown so fond of...

      erik… the marathon community is where i live. let me first point out that i will not let my son (who is 14!) travel these roads. they are dangerous when the weather is dry. and down right treacherous when it is snowy and icy. the roads are narrow and quite often lacking shoulders. the tractor trailers travel too fast. most vehicles travel to fast. i’m guilty of it also, at times. the amish try to travel the back roads. but at some point they have to travel the main roads. also, this community is spread out over a large area. the amish here do not ride scooters, bikes, etc. some kids have mini horses and carts, but most don’t as this is a very young community.
      now, keep in mind,these amish have just paid their fall (school) taxes. that stings, especially since they are not receiving any benefit from that chunk of change they just paid to the school. they have not asked to be reimbursed for their school books (which they have every right to do)
      also, i would like to point out that the articles written have missed some key points. it is not that they don’t want their kids with our “english” kids. they are leery of their kids being exposed to some of the behaviors. but there is also the scheduling difference. their school day starts later (9am i think) and ends later (4pm). this is a farming community. they have chores. our school schedule has my son on the bus at 7:15am. there are other kids on much earlier. and then you have to factor in daylight savings time… and the main reason is they feel their kids would be needlessly transported to the public school… then to the amish school! what a waste of their time. to pick the kids up on the regular “english” bus… bring the amish kids to the public school… switch buses to a bus to bring those kids back to our side of town just doesn’t make sense. to make that happen, their school day wouldn’t start until 9am because it would take that long with all the busing. and the school day would have to be over by 2:30 pm at the latest because they would have to be bused back to the school to get on the appropriate buses home.
      now, here is my suggestion to the school board. give the amish the money they have paid into the school system. then they could pay for their own transportation. now we all know that won’t happen…
      one last point. nobody ever balked at transporting kids to the catholic school half an hour away… or to “special” schools more than an hour away…

    25. anonymous

      Technology and Amish

      Some comments here have brought up the “F” word as a reason to seperate Amish from other children on a bus. But that is not the only issue, nor is the time differences due to farming practices. The comment made that hearing other children use the “F” word on a school bus could impress on the Amish children that they shouldn’t mingle is a good one in my opinion, but using this same reasoning, many non-Amish children have cellular phones, laptops, and ipods. These high-tech items could leave impressionable young Amish children, who do not have such devices, desiring them, which is not acceptable to their religion. In my opinion, this would be the same as showing a young child an interesting toy, then telling that child that they cannot play with it. I am not Amish, nor do I know much about their religious practices, but I imagine that it cannot be easy for any parent to raise a child that is not allowed to have things that they see other children have. Personally, I do not think that it is fair that Amish parents have to face these issues because the school wants to transport their children on the same buses, as it is the school district’s obligation to provide safe transportation to school without violating anyone’s religious practices.





    27. The issue in the Marathon School District has been resolved .
      The schools have been registered with NYSED.gov .
      A vote was held which was in favor of separate transportation.
      Amish children will have separate transportation this Fall of 2012.

      George V

      1. Thanks