'I think it's too far ... to walk'

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About 40 people met at Eagle Valley Middle School Saturday morning to try out new walking routes students will use when two bus routes are canceled April 19.

A school board policy states that any secondary school student living within 2 miles of school must find their own way. Because walking paths to Eagle Valley were insufficient, some students within 2 miles have been bused.

Now that paths have been created, they'll walk.

"We don't provide transportation for anybody else in Carson City who lives within 2 miles," said Mike Mitchell, director of operations for the Carson City School District. "These are the last students."

Parents, students, a concerned school board member and Mitchell left the school in a bus Saturday, were dropped near homes and walked back to the school.

"I think it's too far for her to walk," said Demetrio Munoz of his 11-year-old daughter, Marisol. She'll walk from Menlo Drive south on Airport Road to Desatoya Drive, then along North Edmonds to Snake Hill. There, crossing guards will help her and other students cross to join Hells Bells Road.

Marisol thinks the schools should hold fund-raisers to keep the buses running.

"Crossing guards - they cost money, too," she said.

Apryl Waldrip is worried about her son, Brandon Gray, and his friends walking behind Snake Hill where no one will be watching them.

"My major concern is safety," she said. "If they're going to cancel the bus routes then they should at least make sure it's safe."

Another mother, Carol Dargert, agreed.

"I don't like that area (behind Snake Hill). There's a lot of kids back there spray painting and stuff. It's not safe."

Some of the students said they are worried, too.

"What if some guy rapes us?" asked Jose Avila, 12.

"Or how about if there's a drunk driver and he just goes crazy and runs us over?" asked Tlaloc Lara, also 12.

"I'd rather take the bus," said David Escobar, 10.

School board member Sheila Ward walked to school along Robinson and Mountain Streets when she was a girl.

"It's a fact that we're losing buses," she said. "We just don't have the money to replace them - they cost $70,000 a piece. What we really need is to work together to find the best solution. Having been a parent and a grandparent, I'm just as concerned about the safety of the kids as anybody."

Parent Vince Barnes is worried about his kids crossing North Edmonds.

"Traffic's bad now, but it's only going to get worse when they finish the northern half of the bypass," he said. "It looks like they've already decided to cancel the buses. Maybe after someone gets hurt they'll change their minds."

His son, Matthew, 14, attends Eagle Valley now and his son, Zachary, will start in two years.

School Principal Ferd Mariani said they are just enforcing a walk zone rule which has always existed. In Washoe County secondary school students have to walk within a 3-mile radius, he said.

Eighth-grader Isai Ramirez doesn't think walking will be bad.

"I think it's more a matter of responsibility on the part of the students than safety," he said. His walk will take about 20 minutes each way and he's looking forward to it.

"I think it will be fun with all my friends. It's really healthy to walk."

The results of Saturday's walk will be discussed during the Carson City School Board meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Sierra Room of the Community Center.

Contact Karl Horeis at khoreis@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.


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