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April 16, 2014  |   Comments (2)   |   Post a comment

Illinois bill would increase walking distance to 2 miles

By Kelly Aguinaldo


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A bill is progressing in the Illinois General Assembly that would change school transportation eligibility requirements for students by increasing the walking distance from one and a half miles to 2 miles.

Under House Bill (HB) 5967, school boards would be required to provide free transportation for students who live 2 miles or more from their assigned school.

The 2-mile distance would be measured from the exit of the property where the student lives to the point where he or she unloads at school, and it would be measured by the shortest distance normally traveled on roads or streets.

The transportation requirements would also change for students who attend a charter school or any school other than a public school. Those students who live at least 2 miles from the school they attend and who live on or along a highway that’s part of a public school district’s route could receive transportation service that extends from some point on the route that is nearest to their home to and from their school.

Also under the bill, a school board could provide free transportation to any student who lives within 2 miles (up from one and a half miles) of his or her home school if walking conditions are hazardous. School bus transportation would not be made available if “adequate” public transportation is available.

The changes proposed in HB 5967 are concerning to Patrick Johnson, president of the Illinois School Transportation Association.

In a letter to the Illinois State Journal-Register, he writes that the legislation would “radically alter the formula that guarantees yellow bus service for all students living at least [one and a half] miles from school” and “will put thousands of school children at risk, increase traffic congestion and harm the environment.”

Johnson also noted that many school districts are actually considering reducing the one and a half mile eligibility requirement due to parent concerns about safety issues and the effect of added traffic congestion on the environment.  

Last week, the bill was referred to assignments in the Senate. If the bill is ultimately approved, it would take effect July 1.

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Read more about: Illinois, walking distance

As a single parent, how am I expected to leave work every day and travel back and forth to drop and pick off my kid? At least make the service available with an annual charge, let it be an option for us parents that have children that attend schools that are less than the imposed 1.5 mile. Would you want your child to walk a mile to school when is -20 outside even 20 degrees? winters in Chicago are harsh, give us the option please!! I don't mind paying for it.

Cynthia    |    May 19, 2014 07:43 AM

I like what they are saying in the bill FREE TRANSPORTATION. The State of Illinois has cut transportation funding up to 50% in recent years. Governor Quinn is on record as saying this "It is the parents responsiblity to get their children to school" and that is when he cut transportation funding by 50%. I'm Transportation Director for a small rural K-8 district, we have no sidewalks for the students who live a mile from school. for those students we have a 2 lane black top which is well traveled. We are not like Chicago or Rockford who have Mass transit at their disposal. We keep seeing a lot of these House and Senate Bills proposed by Chicago area policitians.

Douglas Wood    |    Apr 21, 2014 04:31 AM

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