EDMONDS, Washington (STPNS) -- Buses will soon be rolling through the Edmonds School District as they drop off and pick up children from school, but they won’t be stopping at Kim Welaye’s house anymore. Her kids’ bus routes were eliminated over the summer.
The district was forced to eliminate bus service to 2,500 households – or about 3,000 students – due to nearly $12 million in budget cuts.
The schools are asking commuters to drive cautiously once school starts up again. Children living within a mile of their school will now be walking to school or to the nearest bus stop outside of the one-mile radius.
“While they should always be driving safely, people need to be aware that we anticipate a lot more foot traffic from our students and their families in their efforts to get their kids to school on time,” said district spokesperson DJ Jakala.
Welaye’s youngest goes to Beverly Elementary School on 52nd Avenue W. in Lynnwood. She’s worried about children who will be walking along that road to get to school.
“My daughter actually wanted to walk, but I don’t want her on 52nd Avenue W. because it’s really not safe for children, and everybody knows that,” Welaye said.
Transportation was just one of many reductions needed to be made as a result of a state funding shortfall, Jakala said.
“The district generated a lengthy list of cuts that would get us to the $11.5 million reduction we need to make, including closing two elementary schools to get us to that point,” Jakala said. “None of us in our careers ever imagined having to make those kinds of reductions.”
Limiting bus service to routes outside a one-mile radius saves the district about $500,000.
Edmonds isn’t the only district cutting transportation as a result of reduced state funding. The Puyallup School District recently eliminated more than 900 bus stops.
According to the American Association of School Administrators, 23 percent of districts surveyed said they are eliminating bus routes mainly because of budget cuts. That’s up from 14 percent the previous year.
“There are districts reducing transportation up to a two-mile radius in some parts of the country,” Jakala said. “It is something that public schools are struggling with in order to reduce expenses and balance their budgets.”
The district sent out notifications of the transportation changes over the summer. Officials also called the affected families and helped them figure out their alternatives.
The community is banding together to help families get their kids to and from school, Jakala said.
Some parents plan to walk groups of children from their neighborhoods to school, she said. Others plan to park on nearby streets and escort their kids to the building rather than clog up the drop-off circle with cars.
Thanks to Welaye, the strip mall across from Beverly Elementary School has agreed to let parents park there while they drop off and pick up their children from school.
“I hope that people get creative and dig into their community,” Welaye said. “Maybe it’s an opportunity to meet more of your neighbors and start figuring out a way to carpool. We just have to get resourceful and find ways to cope with the change.”
Transportation information, including bus stop locations, suggested routes to school and locations for crossing guards, is available online at www.edmonds.wednet.edu.
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