Some Arlington County students not allowed on the bus

Hank Silverberg,

ARLINGTON, Va. – When school starts again in Arlington, about 9,000 students will be walking to class every day.

That’s about 200 more than in previous years.

Because of overcrowded buses, Arlington County School District is enforcing a long-standing walking policy.

The district serves 22,000 students. Around 14,000 of them will get special vouchers allowing them to ride the bus.

Elementary schools kids who live within a mile of their school have to walk. That distance is lengthened to a mile and a half for middle school and high school students.

The policy has existed for years, says Frank Bellavia, a spokesperson for the district. While it hasn’t been enforced before, Bellavia says it will now be put in place due to bus over-crowding.

Jennifer Mulchandani is concerned that both her children will now have to cross some major intersections to get to Taylor Elementary School.

“I don’t know any adult who would send their children alone,” Mulchandani says. “That’s just not safe.”

Mulchadani says she’ll most likely drive her children to school, making her commute to work much longer.

Madeline Brennan, who lives just outside the walking zone, has a third-grader at Taylor Elementary. She says a mile is a long way for younger kids to walk.

“They are valid concerns, but the county’s got to enforce a rule that’s already there,” Brennan says.

At a supermarket on Lee Highway not far from Taylor Elementary, another mother, who asked not to be identified, says it’s good for the kids to walk.

“We have an obesity problem in this country. It’s good for them,” she says.

The county has not purchased any new buses in the last year. The cost to buy and operate one new bus adds up to around $190,000. Cost was a big part of the decision to enforce the walking rules, Bellavia says.

There is an appeals process for walkers, but Manchurian says that takes three weeks. School starts Sept. 4.

Linda Erdos, spokeswoman for Arlington County schools, says though parents were individually notified this week, the school district announced in July which schools would be affected.

She says they will try and accommodate any parent who appeals if they can.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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