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Goree seeks discussion on transportation policy

JONESBORO — Each day during the school year, 27,000 students step onto school buses and are transported at least a couple of miles to school.

Left out, however, are kids who live within 1.5 miles of their assigned schools in Clayton County Public Schools.

School board member Jessie Goree spoke during a recent meeting, bringing attention to policy she said allows small children to walk a mile or more to school if their parents have no other means of getting them there.

“That’s too far to walk,” said Goree, who represents District 3 in northwestern Clayton County.

She pointed to the board’s student transportation management policy.

Last revised April 12, 2011, the policy notes eligibility for transportation is partly based on a student’s proximity to school. It states that “in hazardous areas students may be transported distances less than 1.5 miles.”

The policy also identifies maximum distances students must walk to board the bus.

School bus stops must be at least two-tenths of a mile or 1,056 feet apart generally, when there are no safety or welfare hazards. But pre-k through fifth-grade students can walk a maximum three-tenths of a mile to their bus stop, while youth in sixth through 12th grades can walk up to half a mile.

Goree argued that if an eligible child has a maximum walking distance per board policy, similar considerations should be given to small children who live within the 1.5-mile radius and do not receive transportation services.

She recommended the board discuss possibly reducing that zone around schools in which transportation is generally not provided to students.

Discussion on the policy and several others, including pending policy amendments, is expected to be on the July meeting agenda.