Arlington parents petition school board over nixed bus routes

The intersection of Military Road and Nellie Curtis drive, which some Taylor elementary school students will now have to navigate during their walk to school. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Parents in Arlington protesting the school district’s new busing policy won’t get a reprieve.

When school starts Tuesday, as many as 1,000 students who have taken the bus in the past will now walk to school.

The Arlington School Board decided over the summer to enforce the one mile rule for elementary school kids and a mile and a half for middle and high schoolers. Students who live within those parameters must walk to school.

Jennifer Mulchandani has two kids at Taylor Elementary. She and parents like her remain frustrated by the lack of response from the school district to their complaints, she says.

“It was not a plan that had any human thought behind it. They are letting a computer basically dictate routing,” Mulchandani says.

More than 700 people have signed a petition asking the school board to change the bus plans which will also require students riding the bus to present vouchers when boarding.

Mulchandani says she will be driving her children, age 7 and 9, to nearby Taylor Elementary school so that they don’t have to cross dangerous intersections.

School Board Chairman Emma Violand-Sanchez tells WTOP that a report on the first week of school should indicate any problems with the busing system. The board expects the superintendent to present the report at a Thursday night board meeting.

Violand-Sanchez says the main motive behind the voucher system is to get an accurate count on how many students are actually using the bus and to keep better track of them.

But Mulchandani says they aren’t giving up on the complaints.

“We are still angry and we still expect there to be answers to our concerns,” she says.

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