OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — Oak Ridge Today reports that the Oak Ridge Board of Education voted on Monday to temporarily restore school bus service to about 1,300 of 1,800 students who had been affected by an expanded “parent responsibility zone,” following protests from parents and grandparents. Parents of students who lived within that zone were responsible for getting their children to and from schools.
The parent responsibility zone, which some call a "walk zone," was expanded to 1.5 miles in June in an effort to reduce a $1.25 million budget deficit, according to the news outlet. However, parents, particularly those of elementary and middle school students, objected to having students cross busy four-lane roadways, walk past the homes of registered sex offenders, or down roads with no sidewalks, to get to school. Additionally, parents expressed concerns about losing their jobs because they have to leave work early to pick up their children. They also said, according to Oak Ridge Today, the expanded parent responsibility zone had a disproportionate impact on low-income families and elementary school children.
The board agreed in a 4-1 vote to use $300,000 in one-time money from the school system’s fund balance to restore the bus routes this year and then study the issue before the next school year, or try to obtain more funding, the news outlet reports. The vote reverses the June decision.
However, the bus routes may not be restored until October, according to Oak Ridge Today. Up to three school bus drivers may need to be hired for an additional six routes, and buses will have to be made “road ready.”
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