Let’s get it right

An AP story ran in the News-Sentinel yesterday, and in the Oak Ridger today, entitled "School officials reviewing state’s bus policy after death." Unfortunately, the story contains some errors — very slight, perhaps just sloppy wordsmithing — but errors nonetheless.

If people are to effect policy change, they must understand clearly who’s policy is what.

Tennessee’s policy states that all students who live more than a mile and a half from their school are allowed to ride the bus.

That’s not quite right. The State of Tennessee makes no policy about who can or cannot ride the bus. The State’s policy is that they will partially reimburse school districts for the cost of transporting students who live more than 1.5 miles from school; however, school districts are not prohibited from offering more — they just have to come up with all of the money.

What State policy does say is that school districts who accept any state funding for transportation are forbidden to charge a fee to any student for riding the bus, even those students who live within the 1.5 mile radius, for whom the State pays nothing.

Bus service was curtailed in 2006 in order to balance the budget. It wasn’t a political ploy (as many assume, including one of today’s letter writers); is was, quite simply, an unpleasant choice between cutting educational services and non-educational services.

Many people have indicated that they would be willing to purchase bus tickets or passes, and that would certainly be one of the easier options. To do so, though, we need for the State to change their policy prohibiting such. I have inquired, but still do not know, whether that’s a law passed by the Legislature, or simply a rule of the State Board of Education.

We have our work cut out for us.

6 Responses to “Let’s get it right”

  1. on 20 Nov 2007 at 9:08 am Harry Pruitt

    Disagree Netmom… The school board choice was to cut Transportation rather than anything else, which resulted in putting students at physical risk. A very poor choice as we all know. A critical mistake was made. Let’s correct it.

  2. on 20 Nov 2007 at 3:48 pm girlfriend

    Harry:

    Walking within a one mile radius is not putting children at risk. This is not unrealistic. Children walk when at home. Exercise is not a bad thing for children. Parents need to teach children how to properly cross the streets and have them walk in groups. I don’t think we can make the world a eutopia for our children but rather teach them how to exist in this world. Kids have accidents whether on their way to school, playing outside or walking to the nearest pool or field for entertainment. The ACCIDENT was a horrible thing but it was what it was, an accident.

  3. on 20 Nov 2007 at 10:00 pm Harry Pruitt

    Girlfriend;

    Yes, this was an accident but it was an accident that did not have to happen. If the present restrictions were not in place she would have been riding the bus. Try crossing that intersection at ANY time of day. I consider myself street smart but I would make every effort not to have to cross there. My impression is that most folks in Oak Ridge agree that bus service must be restored to what it was previously.

  4. on 20 Nov 2007 at 10:01 pm latenitenurse

    Girlfriend, how would you instruct your child to cross the Turnpike? Not only that, go down there and eyeball the markings on the street. That big circle with POI (point of impact), the blue outlining where her bike went off the curb ( oddly, there is a chunk missing from the curb), the wheel area marked..makes me wonder..Was she able to cross in the crosswalk or was the back of the bus blocking her way? In regards to teaching, could the driver perhaps have stopped and let her go in front of the bus? Some things can be prevented. It looks as if the Paines are ready to deal publically with thier grief. I doubt it will be pretty.

  5. on 20 Nov 2007 at 10:21 pm Netmom

    I have crossed that very intersection, with my youngest child, on bicycles. How? We got off the bikes, looked both ways, walked to the island, pushed the “walk” button, and waited for the light. Then we looked both ways again, and pushed our bikes the rest of the way across to the sidewalk on the other side.

    However, the point of this post was the state’s policy on funding transportation, and their prohibition on families inside the 1.5 mile radius paying for bus service. For reasons that should be obvious, I will not participate in or allow discussion here that engages in blame or hints of legal action.

    If you want to talk about that, do it somewhere else.

  6. on 20 Nov 2007 at 10:24 pm Joel

    “If the present restrictions were not in place she would have been riding the bus.”

    What is the evidence for this assertion?

    “Was she able to cross in the crosswalk or was the back of the bus blocking her way?”

    If all busing was abolished in Oak Ridge, Ashley would be alive today. Is that a plausible solution?

    This was an accident. Pure and simple. Get over it.