CINCINNATI - Iyanta Burns already walks her children to Rockdale Academy in Avondale, but this fall her entourage may grow as she becomes the driver of a “Walking School Bus”.
“Happy to do it,” said Burns. “We have some of their friends that walk with us now, so having more kids will make it more fun walking back and forth to school.”
What’s this all about, you might ask?
“A ‘Walking School Bus’ is basically getting volunteers to come out and escort children to school,” Rockdale Academy Principal Cheron Reid said Thursday.
The concept is being tried as a pilot program because of proposed busing cutbacks in the Cincinnati Public School District. Elementary students would have to live over a mile away from their school to ride the bus. The distance would be 1.25 miles for high school students. That, combined with a high school Metro fare increase, could save $1.5 million a year.
The school board will consider the plan Monday as part of $15 million in proposed budget reductions.
If the “Walking School Bus” idea works at Rockdale Academy, it could be implemented in other elementary schools.
The goal is increased student safety.
Adult volunteers are being recruited to either walk with children to school or be stationed at strategic locations throughout the neighborhood.
Reid and Community Learning Center Resource Coordinator Shalon Price are pouring over maps of Avondale to match where students live with the best places to locate the volunteers and what areas to avoid.
“The children are going through dangerous streets, dangerous intersections and are passing through drugs and drug dealers and crack houses,” said Reid. “We’re just trying to make sure we establish the safest route.”
Volunteers will have to pass background checks and will be equipped with walkie-talkies to report potential problems or emergencies.
Price said members of the community have bought into the idea and volunteered.
“They’re very excited about it,” she said. “They like it because it’s a new concept that we’ve never tried before, so it’s like an aha moment for them.”
Burns said she’s proud that Avondale can lead the way for other schools in the city.
“It’s great that Rockdale can be the start of something that one day can be great and everybody will take a model after us doing it,” she proudly stated.
Copyright 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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