Keep those wheels turning

Published 10:56am Tuesday, July 30, 2013

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

When I was in elementary school, I sometimes rode the bus. I had a good friend whose house I would go to after school until my parents picked me up.

Other times, I walked to the school where my mother worked. Then I moved to a private school in middle school, and from then on out my parents dropped me off at school and I’d then walk to my mom’s school, or later on — after turning 16 — I’d drive myself home.

If my school system had elected to discontinue bus services, I would not have been terribly inconvenienced. However, I remember my classmates and the long lines that waited for the bus every day, every year that I was in school. They certainly would have been inconvenienced, and their families as well.

Bus riders came from all walks of life where I grew up — they were black, white and lived in all the areas of town. They needed the transportation for various reasons — some parents worked, some families didn’t have cars or couldn’t afford gas, some families had sick members and weren’t able to drop kids off at school. For those students, the school buses were a lifeline — transportation to education.

I imagine the same is true for many of the kids that currently attend Hoover City Schools, especially those kids in the elementary and middle schools. On July 15, the Hoover Board of Education voted to discontinue transportation services for regular education students, leaving those kids without a ready way to get to school for the 2014-2015 school year.

Just more than a week later, news came that system officials may be rethinking that decision, and system staff will present other options at the Aug. 12 Hoover Board of Education meeting. The system will also hold a public forum on the issue on Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. at Spain Park High School.

I understand the reasoning behind cutting bus services. The school system has had major operating revenue losses — to the tune of almost $100 million — over the past four years and hasn’t been able to keep up its typical pace of hiring teachers to match increasing student enrollment. Cutting bus services would allow more teachers to be hired, more debt to be paid down.

However, I think the benefits to be gained might come at too high a cost. No child should ever be in danger of missing school because he or she simply cannot make it to the classroom. I hope the Hoover system — the system my child will one day use for her schooling — will find another solution.

Amy Jones is the associate editor for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 or at amy.jones@shelbycountyreporter.com.

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