Back in April, District 308 officials unveiled their to deal with shrinking transportation funds from the state. If you live within 1.5 miles of the school your child attends, and there’s a safe path for kids to walk, you won’t be getting bus service for the next school year.
District officials released a list of neighborhoods affected by the decision, determined by checking for safety hazards in the walking path. Areas without a safe walking route will still receive bus service, officials said – only those neighborhoods initially listed would lose it.
Which is why residents in the Four Points subdivision, near the Wheatlands Elementary School, were surprised when they received a postcard in the mail last week informing them that their kids will be walking to school next year. The postcards were sent in the first days of June, to the neighborhoods on the district’s list. But that list didn’t include Four Points.
Angie Smith, the district’s director of business services, said that Four Points was overlooked for a simple reason: officials thought that several key sidewalks were missing, when in fact they had been replaced. And with those new sidewalks in place, she said, Four Points kids now have a safe way to walk to school.
Smith said the repaired sidewalks were brought to her attention by a board member, and as soon as she was aware of it, she decided to add Four Points to the postcard list, so parents there knew about the change. She said she understands why residents were surprised.
“It would have been part of our original list in April if we had known,” she said.
The District 308 board will consider tonight whether to add Four Points to the list, during their regular meeting at . Smith said public comment is welcome on the issue.
Smith said she and her staff looked at other areas in town with safety improvements, and if hazards (as defined by the state) were still present, they kept the bus service running to those neighborhoods. But she emphasized that it’s an ongoing effort to determine the best use of the district’s diminishing transportation dollars.
“As much as possible, we’re treating everyone the same,” she said.
The Oswego School District is facing a cut of about $700,000 in state transportation funds, based on a change in the formula lawmakers use to reimburse school districts. While the district has bused students with safe walking paths within 1.5 miles of a school in the past, they are not, by law, obligated to do so.
Crossing guards will be provided to areas that need it most, Smith said, and determining those areas will be an ongoing process as well. Suggestions from parents, she said, are welcome.
The District 308 board will meet at the Oswego East High School community room, at 1525 Harvey Road, at 7 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.