Parents protest suburban school bus cuts

August 27, 2008 3:04:50 PM PDT
A march in a Chicago suburb Wednesday protested the lack of bus service in one community. Some children who live in a Lansing subdivision are forced to walk more than 2 miles to their school. Students are now walking instead of taking the bus because of budget cuts. That is the official word from Cook County School District 154. About 30 students live in unincorporated Lansing and now walk to Wolcott School in Thornton. District officials say that one bus route saves more than $25,000. But, families are asking, at what cost?

"That's all we want, is that our children get to school safely, and they cannot get to school safely by walking to Wolcott," said Gloria Lowe, concerned grandmother.

Emotions ran high Wednesday as families gathered, prayed and pushed School District 154 to restore bus service to their Lansing subdivision.

"It's only right that they continue to provide the bus service that they promised us from the beginning. That's only a fair thing to do. So we just want the bus service to be restored," said Ron Roby, concerned parent.

The School District cut bus service this year for about 30 students in the subdivision. So, this morning, parents protested by walking their children to school. They say the trek is about 2.5 miles to Wolcott School in Thornton.

"All they want is an education, they don't want to have a track meet every morning. That's why we're doing this. We're trying to make a stand," said Kevin Jones, concerned parent.

Along with distance, families have a list of safety concerns: busy roads without sidewalks, railroad tracks, congested intersections and even a nearby forest preserve.

"They should not have to worry about getting hit by a car. They should not have to worry about getting accosted," said Lowe.

"Very unsafe. It's messed up.," said Keith St. Julien, concerned parent.

School district officials declined to comment on camera, but the district's attorney made these points: he said the school board discussed cutting bus service a year ago and sent parents a letter in April. Since then, there have been several meetings, but he says no one showed up. And there are other parents, who live more than a mile away, who say they've never had bus service to Wolcott.

"We have to drive our kids to school. There's train tracks to cross, there's a distance, I don't believe it's safe. But I don't have any other option. Never had an option," said Steve Webster, parent.

The school district's attorney says voters have turned down four referenda for tax hikes.

As for the parents, they say they were not properly notified about the recent meetings and plan to meet with the new superintendent Thursday night. That superintendent has been on the job two months.


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