August 24, 2004

Why Johnny Can’t Walk To School

That's the title of a report published in 2000, and if anything, the situation has gotten worse -- more new schools built on large tracts of land in areas where it's impossible for kids to walk. That forces local governments to bus them all, or their parents to drive them.

There's a loss to the community as well, when a school is no longer an anchor and focus of a neighborhood, but tucked away somewhere like a big-box retailer. "Like residential or commercial sprawl, 'school sprawl' is contributing to the dismemberment of communities around the country," the report notes.

Meanwhile, in Fairfield Ohio, parents are facing the cutting of school buses for budgetary reasons coupled with police warnings that students shouldn't walk to the new high school because it's unsafe.

""Don't try to walk to school. There is no safe way to walk to the high school along Gilmore Road or Holden Boulevard," said Police Lt. Ken Colburn, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

"Fairfield isn't alone," the article notes. "In recent years, new Monroe, Lebanon, Little Miami and Indian Hill high schools have been built on large tracts at the edge of the community - without sidewalks - which require most students to arrive by car or bus. "

Horrible planning! What about students whose parents aren't available to serve as chauffer service? They're advised to get a ride from someone else.

""That's the last thing I want, a car full of teenagers," one mother told the paper.

1 comment:

  1. Does the report talk about the ENORMOUS cost of maintaing fleets of buses big enough to carry all the students to and from school? And unlike mass transit buses, these sit idle during the middle of the day, all evening and all night. Which makes their cost per ride even higher. If parents had to pay the cost of their children's bus rides, they wouldn't think that regional schools and living in the middle of nowhere were such good things -- when we live in neighborhoods with neighborhood schools, students can walk to school.

    The main argument against neighborhood schools are that we don't live that way any more (well, see my comment on charging students the cost of the ride) and that we need regional schools so that we can have state of the art language labs, swimming pools, etc. But it would be cheaper to drive the students around for those activities as needed than to drive everyone to and from school every day.