D51 families adjust to new extended walking boundaries

By: Taylor Temby Email
By: Taylor Temby Email

School District 51 students are finishing up their first week back to class, but not without some big changes. KKCO 11 News found out how families are coping with the new school walking boundaries.

The past week has been a whirlwind for Lori Kirkpatrick.

"We have kind of a crazy schedule," Kirkpatrick said.

Her second and fifth graders no longer have a bus in the mornings due to the new extended walking boundaries, meaning their world is upside-down. District 51 budget cuts left her kids with a 2.1 mile walk across Patterson Road to Orchard Avenue Elementary, something Kirkpatrick won't stand for.

"As a parent, I wouldn't let a kindergartener walk that way, I mean, you have to re-arrange your whole schedule to make this work," she said. "The girls, I usually wake them up by 5:30 a.m. or so," Kirkpatrick said.

To get to work on time, Kirkpatrick’s kids are dropped off at a friend's house early in the morning.
She heads to work, and then her friend takes all four elementary school students to East Middle School to drop off her oldest. They go back to the house for some time, before leaving again to drop off the elementary school students.

Kristin Thomas' middle and high school students would also be new walkers this year.

"I feel really blessed that we're able to take our kids to school,” Thomas said. "Most people in the workforce work from 8 to 5."

With extra seatbelts, the Thomas family is more than happy to help other students in the neighborhood catch a ride to school.

"That’s exactly why I think it's a problem, is for the kids that don't have access to rides," Thomas said.

The new extended walking routes mean parents are looking for other options. Grand Valley Transit is already getting questions from parents about its buses and whether or not stops can be modified to fit the school start and end times. GVT says with the cutbacks on school buses, they expect a increase in their service.

Like many other families, Kirkpatrick and her girls have had to adjust to life without a bus, but she’s willing to do whatever it takes for her children.

"I just wish they would've give us some more options instead of telling us this is the way it is," Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick also sent a letter requesting that the school district reconsider giving students in her neighborhood a bus, as they are beyond the 2 mile walking limit for elementary school students. The school district is expected to discuss her request next week.

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