A proposal to bus every schoolchild in town is likely to come before the Board of Education this winter.
Superintendent Philip Streifer said he intends to propose that beginning next fall, the district “bus all children” rather than making those who live within a mile or two hoof it.
Streifer said that many students are already bused and those who have to walk often do so in potentially dangerous conditions.
Citywide busing for all students “for safety reasons” would make it more likely that students come to school even in bad weather and arrive there without risking life and limb.
It’s not clear how much it would cost to bus everyone, but school officials have said that it might not cost more than the existing system that has walking and buses.
Dropping the requirement that students who live close to school walk would allow the district to stop clearing miles of sidewalks with tiny Bombardier snowplows and cease hiring scores of crossing guards.
The savings would cover much of the tab that extra buses would require, officials said.
Board of Education member Tom O’Brien said months ago that more busing isn’t necessarily more costly than having students walk even now.
He said the cost of paying crossing guards is rising so much that in a few years it will equal the tab for busing even if every student in town took a bus to school.
O’Brien said recently that residents should realize that few walk to school today.
More than 80 percent of the students at some schools are already bused, including those attending Memorial Boulevard Middle School and Bingham and Greene-Hills elementary schools.
Many of those who are supposed to walk are actually dropped off by parents, O’Brien said.
Officials have frequently decried the large number of cars surrounding schools because parents are dropping off or picking up students, adding to the congestion and danger.
“A very small percentage of students walk,” O’Brien said.O’Brien said that at some schools, such as O’Connell Elementary, more children walk from the neighborhood.
But, he said, there are safety and traffic issues there that worry administrators.
Streifer said that he saw last winter how children have to navigate sidewalks that aren’t shoveled or non-existent, traipsing along in the street to get to class or to go home.
Streifer said that it isn’t safe the way things are.
Moreover, he said, some students simply stay home when the weather is bad because of the hazards of walking. That slices into badly needed instructional time, Streifer said.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org