Monday, August 14, 2006

More About Buses

Mrs. Eaves has a thoughtful post over at AtomicTumor this morning, and she's right -- some of the discomfort over the change in bus service is not about household crisis, but about inconvenience. There are some parents who need to shoulder a bit more responsibility for their kids (although this isn't new).

But only some. There are definitely families that do all the right things, taking time with their kids for study and behavior training, but for whom transportation will be a real problem, as she correctly notes.

One suggestion I mentioned to Dr. Bailey to pass along to the principals for consideration was to see if we could create a "fast lane" drop-off for people carpooling with three or more kids -- sort of an incentive to encourage carpooling, and a reward for those who are helping out by getting them through the line faster.

Another suggestion is one I received from Anotherthing2 is an effort that could be coordinated through the PTO/PTA: some sort of "safe place" sign to put on selected houses within the 1-mile zone, where a child walking home can go at any time if they feel afraid or need help. Obviously, someone would have to take charge of making sure that the homeowner with a "safe place" sign really was okay, but still, I do like the concept.

In this city, there are a number of people who walk for exercise, or walk their dogs, every morning. Many no longer have young children at home; might they volunteer to help out a neighbor in a bind with no bus service, by walking with young students to school?

Do we as individuals have the will to address the problem in ways that would strengthen our neighborhoods and the community as a whole? Clearly, reducing bus service was an unpleasant choice. Reducing any service that our students and parents rely on is painful.

At the same time, I do see the possibility of some good coming out of this adversity... of parents and neighbors getting to know each other better, and helping each other in a way that used to be the norm rather than the exception. Perhaps a greater number of students riding bicycles to school could make it more fun, and the combined walking/biking efforts could lead to better health for our children who often don't get enouch exercise, fresh air, and sunshine.

Maybe it's too 1950's to work... but even in the 70's, it was a special treat for me to ride my bike to school, because it gave me a little "unwind time."

What might you do to make something good happen from this bad situation?


Anonymous GoldenAppleCorp said...

At the Willow Brook PTO meeting, the idea of safe houses was brought up, but a lot of the parents were apprehensive about the idea. It is difficult, if not impossible, to know if that home-owner is truly a "safe" person.
The incentive of a fast-lane for carpooling parents is a good idea, but I don't know if the parking lot structure of the schools would support such a thing. Already there are possible problems as far as blocking out emergency vehicles, should something bad happen during pick-up times.
I love the idea of this problem spawning a tighter-knit community. Someone brought up the idea of a parent's mixer at Willow Brook, so that parents could come (without their children) and meet and talk with other parents in the school. I think that doing something like this before carpools or walkpools are created is a good idea. No one wants to hand over responsibility of their kid to a stranger.
I would like to see street-wide carpools. Sort of like each classroom has a room mother, each street could have someone who spearheads group meetings or divvies out schedules for carpooling.
I think this is a great opportunity for people to meet their neighbors. Oak Ridge can be a difficult place to move into. It's hard to meet people here.

8:49 AM  

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