Skip to comments.‘Walking school bus’ plan promotes safety
Posted on 05/24/2006 1:53:24 PM PDT by wjersey
The wheels on the bus might not be going round and round anymore.
In fact, there might not be wheels at all for some Shawnee pupils.
On Monday, the Shawnee City Council directed city staff to apply for state funding to implement a walking school bus initiative in two elementary schools for the 2007-08 school year.
A walking school bus essentially is a group of children walking together to school with one or more adults leading them along a designated safe route.
As far as the city staff can tell, Shawnee would be the first in Kansas to implement such a program.
The programs fate largely depends on whether the Kansas Department of Transportation will pay part of the $64,000 cost.
The initiative is aimed at promoting exercise and decreasing automobile congestion around the schools. The concept also would give parents confidence that their children would be safe walking to school.
The walking bus would meet at a designated time and place each weekday morning and make stops along the way to pick up pupils.
The walking bus initiative is successful in England and Australia, city officials say, and is beginning to gain momentum on the West Coast.
In November, the program was introduced on a trial basis at St. Peters School in Kansas City.
Sharon Mohler, the parent coordinator for the St. Peters program, said participation almost doubled in the course of the year from 44 children in the fall to 84 this spring.
Its really a no-brainer when you see how well this program works, Mohler said. You think, Why arent more people doing this?
Mohler said the school and parents would like to continue the program next school year and are looking for funding sources. The grant that helped initiate the program was for one year only.
Shawnee is proposing that a one-year walking school bus pilot program be instituted at Broken Arrow and Clear Creek elementary schools.Both have many students who live within a half-mile radius and traffic congestion problems, officials said. Principals at both schools are supportive of the program.
Kansas recently received funding for Safe Routes to School programs which enable and encourage children to walk or bike to school, among other things through federal legislation passed in 2005. The legislation pledged $100 million to Safe Routes to School Programs in 2006.
The Kansas Department of Transportation has not determined how to distribute its share, but upon hearing an informal presentation about Shawnees walking school bus program, state officials encouraged the city to apply.
City staff said its possible that KDOT would fund 80 percent of the program, leaving the city responsible for about $12,800.
However, the city wont know if it will receive state funding until September. If the answer is yes, council members would have to decide then whether they can find the rest of the money in the 2007 budget.
The $64,000 would go to hire three crossing guards to serve as the adult leaders of walking school buses during the one-year pilot program.
While some communities that have adopted the walking school bus program using volunteers, Shawnee officials said that because the program was unfamiliar, it would be difficult to get enough volunteers for a program there.
I remember they had these on The Flintstones.
Great idea. I have not heard about this before. I hope they can work it out and that more schools start doing this.
Interesting. A litle exercise to counter the Playstation and Lunchables.
This sounds like a good idea for larger metro areas. Unfortunately where I live it's too rural for something like this to work. Some kids have 50 mile round trips to school.
We have one of these here in Austin now. A group of students from an apartment complex have to cross some very busy streets to get to school. A kindergartner was hit last year on his way to school. The complex is just too close to get a real bus. They showed the nice lady who is the walking bus on the news just a week or so ago.
"Walking school bus" has to be one of the dumbest coinages yet.
It's a gaggle of kids, for the love of Mike.
In my opinion, this sounds like an excellent idea. Terrific on many levels.
If they want to strike fear into the hearts of commuters, call it the "walking school SUV."
So if route is designated (by whom?) as safe, does this mean it becomes a drug and gun free zone?
I see day care tots walking around with their handlers, and they all appear tethered to some rope (or maybe it's some kind of "toy" that they all hold to keep them from bolting). I call it the chain gang.
Speaking of school children walking the streets with authorized adults.... I knew it was around Earth Day when I drove down the main road (50 MPH speed limit) and saw the local middle/jr. high schoolers (on a school day) walking very close to (and in) the road, picking up litter. Must have been a hundred kids out there as potential road kill. But if it saves mother earth...
UM....this is what MOM's USED to do! But, at least they are trying to find a way for SOMEONE to help the kids get to school on foot.....it'll be interesting how many Mom's get on board.....or complain that it's TOO FAR!
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