Clarification Sept. 1, 1:05p.m.: It was unclear from the phone call if the message went to all phones on the alerts list or just to the people whose appeals are incomplete.
The Arlington Public Schools department of transportation sent out a robo-call just a few minutes ago telling parents that appeals of the newly-enforced busing plan will not be finished by the start of school Tuesday.
“Due to the number of appeals we have received, we regret that we will be unable to complete our review and provide you with a decision before the start of school," said the voice of the APS mass phone call.
That quote is a nice summary of the phone call. The voice also said the APS transportation department will continue to work on the appeals.
The appeals are necessary as many students, and their parents, found out mid-August that some children would be walking to school this year, no longer riding a school bus, as they had in previous years.
The newly-enforced rules (APS says they are just enforcing long-standing policy, not creating new policy), mean that students who live within a 1 mile radius of their elementary schools must walk. Middle and high schoolers walk if they live within a 1.5 mile radius. Children who are allowed to ride a bus were issued bus passes.
For some students that means crossing large roads during morning rush hours. This has parents upset, and many have appealed. The Washington Post reported the number yesterday as about 200.
To be fair, the appeals process form says it will take three weeks and, earlier, school officials said they would not have the process done by the start of classes.
"It’s not the distance, it’s the safety issue. It has nothing to do with the distance," said Cathy Constantine, a parent who delivered appeals forms to Kenmore Middle School on Aug. 21. Children from Arlington Forest, where she lives, on the north side of Arlington Blvd. will have to cross the boulevard and Carlin Springs Road.
Like many parents, Constantine is looking to have her eighth-grader walk with other children and is looking at carpooling and Metro bussing for alternate transportation.
But the fight for her is not over.
“We’re the ones who are going to fight to try to get our kids’ back on the buses," she said.
Full disclosure: I have a child in Kenmore Middle School who will walk this year instead of taking the bus. --ST