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Mothers request bus service for children

September 08, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Sexual predators, icy sidewalks and traffic prompted two Waynesboro Area School District students' mothers to ask Tuesday whether they can have school bus service.

Both families live in the Borough of Waynesboro and within the state regulations for which students should walk to school.

Transportation reimbursement is provided to schools for elementary students living more than one and a half miles away from school and secondary school students living two miles away. Those regulations change if a major highway is in the area.

The regulations mean the district would need to spend its own money if it provided buses for Margaret Reed's daughter and Nancy Hammell's son.

Board President K. Marilyn Smith said she understands the women's concerns, but she fears granting them bus service would start a slippery slope for requests by other parents.

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Each bus route costs $50,000 a year, Smith said. Providing buses for every student would add five to seven routes, she said.

She would encourage the students to walk in big groups.

Reed now drives her 12-year-old daughter half way to school, then asks her to walk the remainder. She knew her daughter would walk from their Harrison Avenue home to Fairview Elementary School, but she was caught off guard when she learned a bus would not take the seventh-grader to Waynesboro Area Middle School.

Reed said her daughter can physically walk to the middle school, yet other factors affect safety.

"Times have changed, and it's just not safe any longer," she said.

Hammell lives on Tritle Avenue and saw her son, Thomas, off to the bus every year. For 2009-10, her 15-year-old son and four others were told they would not be able to take that bus, she said.

"I'd really like to try to get my son back on the school bus," she said, citing downtown traffic and construction concerns.

Hammell said her son wasn't on the 2008-09 bus routes until she called and had that changed.

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