When should kids have to walk to school?

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FILE - A North Clackamas School District bus. (KOIn 6 News)

CLACKAMAS, Ore. (KOIN) — When an estimated 30 extra students showed up to take the bus to Clackamas High School last week, the driver made a decision: anyone living less than 1.5 miles from the school had to walk.

The move seemed arbitrary to one parent who contacted KOIN 6 News, asking us to “find out why Clackamas High School has cut buses.” She said her daughter lives almost exactly 1.5 miles away and the walk to school “is dangerous and mostly up hill.”

“If you live 1.5 miles or less you have to WALK to school,” said the parent in a Facebook message to KOIN 6 News. “They didn’t notify parents; [they] just stopped at bus stops and handed out bus passes to certain students — and told the rest to walk.”

As it turned out, the driver used a little-known state school-bus policy.

“We do our best to get kids to school,” said a North Clackamas School District spokesperson. About 12,000 of the 17,000 students in the North Clackamas School District ride buses, according to district figures.

The unexpected riders showed up for the Clackamas High School bus on the first day of school. Most, if not all, who were sent away live more than a mile from the school — in an apartment complex on SE 97th Avenue. And on hot days like those experienced over the past week, that’s one hot long walk.

Under a state-wide policy in Oregon, schools are provided buses for high schoolers but are only required to transport those who live a mile and a half or farther away from school. For elementary schoolers, the distance is one mile.

The state then reimburses the districts for use of the buses.

The district has made arrangements since then though, to change one of the routes so those students can take the bus to school.

“We do our best to get kids to school and to get all the kids that are there to school,” said North Clackamas School District Spokesperson Joe Krumm. “We [just] had a situation there where it was overcrowded.”

Question: What’s your take on the state’s walk-to-school policy for elementary school students (1 mile) and older public school children (1.5 miles)? Please leave your comment in the space below (this may require a brief log-in process).

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