The dismissal bell rings at 2:24pm. The hallway swells with Middle Schooler bodies. Then within five minutes, the hallways are clear. All have filed out the front door after a stop at their locker. Some grab a bike, some start their walk, many head to a school bus. All head home.
N joined my class as the fourth quarter began. I see him after school still on the sidewalk as I begin my walk home. He is putting his cell phone back in his pocket. “Did you miss the bus?” I ask. He tells me he lives too close to ride the school bus and instead is waiting to take the Metro Bus. “But it doesn’t come for another 10 minutes.” I take this info in as I walk the half mile east to my house.
Once home, I look at my student rosters and electronic information and see where N lives. It is a few blocks beyond my house and a few before the high school. I recall seeing another one of my student, E, walking her dog while I was driving in that neighborhood once on a Saturday. The next day I ask E how she gets home. “I ride the school’s bus. The first stop is the high school and I walk home from there.”
I look online to see the bus routes. But they are not posted for safety reasons. Instead, it says to contact your school for this information. So the next day, I ask in the Counseling Office and I’m told what N’s mom was told. “He lives within 1.5 miles of our school so he is a walker.” I get this rule. However, it makes no sense to me when just a half a miles beyond his house is a middle school bus stop at the high school. If he took that bus, he’d avoid the $2 fare to ride the Metro Bus which drops him .5 miles before his house. Why not ride our free school bus?
I asked N’s counselor to look into it and he did. Thanks to his efforts, N rides to and from school for free on our school’s bus.
Now I feel the need to share this information with my school district. Maybe a persuasive letter to the transportation department asking them to consider this information. If I hadn’t noticed N, he’d still be spending $20 a week riding the Metro bus, not to mention the added time spent doing so. My hope is that we notice a family’s address in relation to the school AND in relation to all school bus stops. Then share all the transportation options. Then a family can decide whether to be a walker, a bike rider, a car rider or bus rider.
Note: By writing this piece, I’m feeling ready to write my letter. This was a good way to draft!