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School Bus Policy Baffles Box Elder Parents

August 31, 2012, 6:00 PM by Derek Olson

School Bus Policy Baffles Box Elder Parents
BOX ELDER, SD -

A change in the school bussing policy has one Box Elder family sending their kids the two-and-a-half miles to class on foot. 

Officials with the Douglas School District say it's because of less state education funding. But that's not cutting it for a concerned parent, who says it's putting her children in danger.

Last year, when Jayme Hix and her family moved into their Box Elder home their kids rode the bus to school.

"We weren't even quite moved but we had the kids riding that bus because we were doing work on that house and it was just easier for them to get on and off there," Hix said.

But cuts to the state's education budget have forced the Douglas School District to change their bussing policy.

"Last year was the first year that we implemented that rule that we wouldn't bus within that 2.5-mile range," Douglas School District Assistant Superintendent Diana Koch said.

The district made some exceptions for families living near the 2.5-mile border, but that ended when the school year started on Tuesday.

Depending on where you measure from, the Hix home is either 2.4 or 2.5 miles from the school and the bus that the family's kids used to ride stops right across the street.

"I don't understand why my kids can't walk to that bus stop and get on the bus.  There's evidently room on there for them because they have rode it the last couple of days," Hix said.

But with the bus no longer an option, the family's seven and 13-year-olds have to walk along a road with no sidewalks and busy traffic.

"I don't want to think about the winter because there is no place to walk. If it was icy or snowy it's going to be even worse," Hix said.

The assistant superintendent says she feels for families struggling with the change, but that the rules need to be enforced fairly.

"If you move that line in for some but not for others, then you've created that base of inequity," Koch said.

Alternate bussing is available at a cost of $35 per student every month.  But Hix says that's too much for her family to afford.

"I want people to realize that sometimes there is no other option.  Some days there will be no other option than to walk," Hix said.

Carpooling is also available for families struggling to find transportation for their students.  But Hix doesn't believe that would be a reliable alternative to the school bus.

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