Long school bus rides concern parents

August 23, 2008 1:18:12 PM PDT
The battle over busing is heating up again as Wake County students head back to class Monday.On a small street just off Garner Road in southeast Raleigh, students who are picked up at a school bus stop will not be dropped off in the Capital City. They will be taken to Davis Drive Elementary School in Cary, nearly 17 miles from home.

"They don't like their children being bused way to Cary when there are schools right here," Raleigh resident Shirley Smith said.

Wake schools bus students away from facilities near their homes for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes families have elected to go to magnet schools. In other cases, it's to meet the school system's diversity policy which tries to limit the percentage of children on the free and reduced lunch program at a given school.

Officials concede some kids will find themselves on the bus for an hour each way, everyday.

"It does happen, its ride times versus ride distance," said Michael Evans with Wake County Schools. "We try to minimize the seat time on buses because we realize it impacts families both going to and coming home from school."

Belinda Bowser is one of those families affected. Her daughter gets bused from inside Raleigh's beltline nearly 14 miles away to a year-round school.

"I like the school but the travel time back and forth, I don't really agree with that." Bowser said.

She says she deals with it and so does her daughter.

About 70,000 Wake County school students ride the bus daily and 85 percent of them attend school within five miles of their home. The average time a student spends on the bus each way is 35 minutes.


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