BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) — Wednesday marked the first day of school for many of the students at the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union District. Many children were excited to be back in the classrooms, but some parents didn’t know there was a bus route change for this academic year. Due to new crosswalk signals and newly paved sidewalks, more students now fall under the school’s ‘Walking Zone.’
Michelle Cole is one of many concerned parents now that her 11-year-old granddaughter is a walker to Mount Anthony Union Middle School. Michelle says her family learned the news yesterday, the day before the first day of school. “Her mother and I will not let her walk,” says Michelle.
They live in the Willowbrook Apartments in Bennington, the apartment complex is about a mile drive to the district’s middle school. In previous years, there was always a bus route for the children who live in the Willowbrook apartments.
“I am not looking out for not just these kids now, but the ones who are already coming up later on that we know are middle schoolers going to be safe and have a safe ride and now have to talk that distance,” says Michelle.
The Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union School District says under administration policy, students who live passed a mile and half radius of their school building can be picked up by the bus but for the students living within a mile and half radius are not eligible for transportation services. Michelle was wondering why there was a change to their bus route for this school year.
“The road has been prepared for pedestrian use by the Town of Bennington, making the students who live in the Willowbrook Apartments not eligible for transportation per Policy #3100. There were recent updates to the area, including the installation of controlled crosswalks with walk signals and sidewalks.”SVSU Superintendent James Culkeen
“I don’t care if it has stop lights or not, cars go through there and not stop at times too…We’re not having our children walk across that thruway, I don’t care that they put lights in, a bridge across it, it’s still a long distance you’re asking a child at that age to walk in the winter, rain is happening,” says Michelle.
The district is held a virtual meeting to addressed this concern along with other issues like staff shortages.