West Orange, NJ School District To End Courtesy Busing In Cost-Cutting Move

A budget crunch has forced the West Orange School District to cut courtesy busing, but parents say that will create a major safety issue.

Video Transcript

- A bus battle in West Orange, New Jersey and a budget crunch. The school district decided to cut what is known as courtesy busing.

- But parents say that creates a safety issue. CBS 2's Meg Baker has a story.

- West Orange isn't exactly a walkable town with steep hills, disconnected sidewalks, and busy intersections. But that's what some kids will have to do. Buses will no longer be provided for approximately 670 students, grades 6 through 12 who live within 2 and 1/2 miles of school, more than a half hour walk. Superintendent Dr. Scott Gascon says--

- The district realized the savings of approximately a half a million dollars. And it was entirely a financial imperative.

- Parents and pedestrian safety advocates are asking the district to reconsider.

- To balance the budget on the backs of child safety is completely unacceptable.

- To walk a 45 minute, one hour walk with no sidewalks on the street with 20 pounds of bags on your back is not safe. It's hazardous.

- This new policy meets state law which requires students living more than 2 and 1/2 miles from school to get transportation. Dr. Carson says cutting busing for those living closer was done to save programs and staff positions.

- Class size, social emotional supports, extracurricular activities.

- Many of the parents I spoke with say they'll be heading back into the office soon, which will make afternoon pickups impossible. Sangeeta Badlani's 11-year-old son was killed by a distracted driver.

- It's clearly going to disproportionately affect the vulnerable families like think of parents and do household income families. Because you know, they don't have the resources at the time to pick up and drop their kids to school.

- The superintendent says he is working with the Township to come up with a plan for more crossing guards. But parents want the Board of Education to rethink the decision, and perform a traffic study, exploring Safe Routes to school before implementing this plan in September. In West Orange, New Jersey, Meg Baker CBS 2 News.

- And the superintendent says elementary students will still get transportation and currently many students choose to get dropped off by car or drive themselves, so often the buses are not full.