More walking for Windham public school students
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Windham - posted Tue., Mar. 5, 2013
Through a unanimous vote at its meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 27, the Windham Board of Education approved a new transportation plan that will require many Windham students to do a lot more walking at the start of the next school year. “It is the intent of the Windham Board of Education to preserve the rights and safety of all bus passengers,” reads the plan. “The Board encourages students to either walk or ride their bike to school. For those students that require transportation, our prime concern is to provide the safest and most efficient routes to and from school.”
The plan calls for school-based pre-K through grade 5 students to walk up to a half mile to school or to a designated bus stop. Children in grades 6 through 8 will be required to walk up to a mile. Students in grades 9 through 12 will be required to walk up to a mile and a half.
Board of Education Chairman Murphy Sewall referred all questions to Windham Public Schools Communications Officer Kerry Markey.
Asked whether Special Master Steven Adamowski had initiated the changes, Markey said, “Dr. Adamowski did note early on that we were spending more than we could afford to on transportation; that our transportation policy was more generous than was typical for a district of our size, and that our actual transportation service was not exceeding even that policy. He did request that we revise the policy and plan to administer transportation consistent with the new policy.”
With regular transportation accounting for approximately $1.4 million of the district’s budget, each bus that might be eliminated by streamlining the busing system could save approximately $50,000, according to the board.
Markey said that walking distances in the policy “are consistent with those in surrounding districts and others in the state.” Asked whether the new policy might pose a problem for working parents of small children, Markey said, “Although parents often do choose to accompany small children, it also is common for children to walk in groups without adult supervision other than crossing guards at street corners. Children will not be asked to walk, with or without parents, on routes where it is not safe for them to do so.”
The transportation policy also calls for students in grades pre-K through 12 to be issued identification cards, “that must be carried on their person in order to board the buses.”
The new transportation policy for Windham public schools is scheduled to take effect for the fall of 2013. To view the adopted policy, go to www.windham.k12.ct.us/boe/minutes.htm and click on the Feb. 27 Agenda and Packet link.