To the Editor,
This year the school system changed their rules so that kids in K-5 who live between one and two miles from school now have to pay $310 to ride the school bus. This grates the parents in my neighborhood for a number of reasons:
- Charging fees for optional activities is unfortunately the way things are these days but getting to school is not an optional activity.
- No one in the school department is recommending that it is appropriate for K-5 kids to walk 3.5 miles round trip from our neighborhood to school every day. The city seems to be treating this 1.6 mile bus ride to school as some sort of optional luxury.
- The city chose to close many of the neighborhood schools over vehement objections of many residents. At the time they made all sorts of promises that they now breaking one by one (e.g. all Upper Falls kids will be together at one school). Now as a result of the decision to close our neighborhood school, the residents of Upper Falls as well as various other neighborhoods around the city are being given a $310 bill for transportation every year -- or $620 if you have more than one kid in school.
- The traffic at Countryside (and I'm sure other schools) at the start/end of each day has already been a problem for some time. For those parents who have the option, some number of them will now start driving their kids and adding to the traffic rather than pay the fee.
If they are indeed public schools then all reasonable and necessary transportation to those schools should be part of the city's responsibility...especially since the city quite purposefully created the situation where a large fraction of the student population now lives too far away to walk.