(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Throughout the school year, parents in Indian Prairie School District 204 have complained about bus routes that are no longer being provided after school boundaries were redrawn.
Some parents were told that school buses would be provided for their children, only to later find out they wouldn't.
“As a community, we are supposed to help each other, not make it harder for parents to get their students out the door,” said Veronica Andrade, a parent who addressed the school board during its Monday night meeting. “By taking away buses, it makes it harder on us, on our families.”
Andrade has three children that attend Gombert Elementary School in Aurora.
District 204’s transportation policy states that students who live within one-and-a-half miles of school buildings will not be provided buses unless there is a safety hazard.
Still, Andrade and other parents said it’s not safe for their children to walk to school.
“We did our research citing safety hazards, decision-making maturity and expert knowledge of road conditions from living within the community for many years,” she said.
Despite presenting the information to the board earlier in the year, parents said their concerns of both safety and equity were dismissed.
“Please stop looking at our families from how we look to you on a Google map,” she said. “We live in these communities and after years of living in these communities, we are the experts on the safety conditions.”
Superintendent Adrian Talley defended the current bus routes and stressed the decisions were made based on state regulations.
“It has been implied that decisions about busing are somewhat capricious in nature and not given out equitably,” said Talley. “That is not true, nor is it factual.”
Talley noted the district’s director of support operations, Ron Johnson, conducts regular studies to determine if a safety hazard exists.
Those hazards for students who walk to school include not having a sidewalk on a roadway, crossing railroad tracks or the speed of traffic on a road above a certain level.
“Some hazards were determined years ago, and the district is in the process of reviewing each of those hazards,” added Talley. “It does take time to review.”
In addressing criticism of transportation equity in lower-income neighborhoods, Talley said the process is equitable because “the same process is being used in all areas."