Loudoun parents protest bus route cuts

Parents protest canceled bus routes in Loudoun County. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)

LEESBURG,Va. – Walking to school is now the focus of a protest for parents of about 3,000 students in Loudoun County.

The school board has cut several bus routes, forcing students who live within a mile of their schools to walk to class when classes resume in the fall.

But on Tuesday, a group of parents and some of their kids carried books and tote bags from Smart’s Mill Middle School down Va. 15 and the Battlefield Parkway to protest.

Terri Azzie, who has two kids attending Tuscarora High School and Smart’s Mill Middle School, says the walk is unsafe.

“They are loaded down with heavy backpacks, heavy band instruments, softball bags, and they have to cross two heavily traveled commuter routes,” she says.

She also says many of the sidewalks in the area are not shoveled in winter and some areas do not have sidewalks.

Jill Weiss, who also has children that will be affected by the cuts, says safety is the real issue.

“I ask you to come here on a weekday morning during school season and try to cross Battlefield Parkway or Route 15,” she says.

School board member Bill Fox, who listened to parents as they gathered for their walk, says he is sympathetic but school board had to cut $16 million from the requested budget.

“There’s got to be cuts, and we’re trying to make sure the cuts are not in the classroom.”

He says they will look into safety issues.

“But we are in the education business, we are not in the transportation business.”

Fox says about 10,000 of Loudoun County’s 70,000 students already walk to class.

He says parents can appeal on a one-by-one basis if they want to get their children back on a school bus.

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