Parents angry over canceled bus stops
Last year, 13-year-old Rebecca Pankey caught the bus at Fremont Elementary School and rode it to Carson Middle School, where she attended seventh grade.
Now an eighth-grader, Rebecca’s parents assumed she would follow the same routine. However, they were notified over the summer the school district would no longer be providing that bus service.
“It’s poor management, if you ask me,” said her father, Ron Pankey. “To me, one child getting kidnapped or hit by a car isn’t worth this garbage and cutbacks.”
Mike Mitchell, director of operations, announced plans in July to eliminate 11 bus stops within a two-mile radius of middle and high schools, leaving 150 Carson Middle and Carson High school to walk to school.
“We’ve provided transportation in the past because there hasn’t been a safe route,” Mitchell told the school board last month. “The city has made a lot of improvements and it’s safe now. It’s really about providing equity to all kids.”
But the Pankeys aren’t the only parents who disagree.
Mitchell said he has received several complaints since notifying parents of the cancellations.
Pankey and his wife, Jackie, and another parent, Kelly Clark, voiced their concerns at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
“My concern is (Highway) 395 is not a good intersection for children to be crossing at any time,” Clark said. “I think the school district should really work with the city to mark that better so people know children will be crossing.”
Mitchell said other parents suggested buses with extra space should pick up children within the two-mile walking radius.
Mitchell is considering the compromise but said he foresees a problem once winter arrives and more students outside the two-mile zone ride the bus, leaving no room for students living closer who have become accustomed to catching the bus.
“During that 90 percent of the time when we have the room, we could provide the service,” he said. “But during that 10 percent when you don’t, all hell breaks loose.”
District officials are also considering petitioning the city to turn flashing school zone lights on earlier and better mark other school zones.