Parents divided over SD51 proposal to extend student walking distances

By: Taylor Temby Email
By: Taylor Temby Email

Parents and students will head into summer break with many questions about how next school year will look. The school district proposed its final budget to the board last night, with a few controversial cuts.

The new proposed walking distance for some students has parents divided. Some are very concerned, especially those with younger children, who could now be walking as far as two miles to and from school. Others say it was the least intrusive cut the district could've made. Either way, the possible change raises some questions.

It's a delicate balance. Busing has been offered to families for a long time in School District 51.

"People need to understand that transportation isn't mandated in our state. Our district has chosen to transport students," School District 51 director of transportation David Montoya said. "[Transportation] is one of those big ticket items we have to take a look at."

With looming budget cut, extending walking distances for some students would save the district $565,000 next year.

"[My daughter is] almost nine. I would not feel comfortable with a nine year old, let alone a five or six year old [walking to school]," district 51 parent Julie Bockelman said.

Elementary students could walk up to two miles to school, middle and high schoolers up to three, which makes some parents uneasy.

"[Where my child would walk] it's a way busy road, the speed limit is way too high," Bockelman said.

"It just seems like, you're not always sure if the kids are paying really close attention, so that's definitely a concern," added parent Stephanie Heald.

Some parents say the areas by their schools don't always have crosswalks or sidewalks.

"We address all of those issues as we can to accommodate what we're trying to do with our service," Montoya said. He says the school district can address these issues with the help of the community.

"The drivers on the street, our city and county governments to put that infrastructure in there if it's needed," he said.

The county can help make improvements where there are safety concerns.

"The county has been able to go out and maybe make some signage improvements or whatever might be appropriate in that specific situation," county spokesperson Jessica Peterson said.

The Mesa County Sheriff's Office says if students start walking, parents should take an active role, too.

"If their kids are going to walk to school, choose a safe route for the kids to walk and walk it with them before school starts," sergeant Jeff Byrne said.

While this change hasn't been approved by the school board yet, nearly $5.8 million has to be cut somehow.

"I would just drive my kids to school," parent Melissa Rogers said.

"This is going to affect a lot of people's lives," added Montoya.

Other parents we spoke with say extending walking distances was a smart budget cut, because it didn't take away from the classroom.

Here's what you need to know if your students will have to walk next year. The sheriff's office says parents should time the routes so they know when their student should arrive home, teach students about crosswalks and the different signs they may come across, and if there is no sidewalk, walk against traffic as far away from the cars as possible.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:

Read Comments

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by CarePackage on May 26, 2012 at 04:38 PM
    Blah, Blah, Blah. No none cares. The district has already made up their mind. Game over. Kids lose again. Employees win again. Tax payers keep paying. Blah, Blah, Blah.
  • by Joe Location: City on May 24, 2012 at 05:48 AM
    Maybe this will help with some of your fat kids lose some weight
  • by Kkco viewer(Obviously) on May 23, 2012 at 09:21 PM
    Whats the story about the high speed chase!? And why isnt it listed here on the site??? I wanna know about what goes on in fruita
    • reply
      by Honey on May 24, 2012 at 03:46 AM in reply to Kkco viewer(Obviously)
      Then watch the Fruita TV station...
  • by james on May 23, 2012 at 09:06 PM
    So will the school be responsible if my child has left home and either gets hit by a car or attacked by a dog, kidnapped, raped, beat up by a homeless person???? will they pay for the hospital bill if anyone one of these things were t happen and it will at some point.. will there be extra patrol cars to make sure one or all of these things never happen?? If you ask me I'd find a way to return the solar panels that the school district bought and instead of using state of the art classrooms like at Chipeta Elem I'd go back to pencil and paper and the adminastators and as much as they get paid cut a few of them & busing kids to school come on isn't their motto "First Student" someone isn't thinking hard enough for my comfort and my concerns
    • reply
      by wake up on May 23, 2012 at 09:19 PM in reply to james
      Are you serious? This is just what is wrong with people nowadays, everyone's a victim. You as a parent are responsible, end of story. You snuck one by the goalie, you make sure it gets to and from school safely.
      • reply
        by james on May 23, 2012 at 09:50 PM in reply to wake up
        look all I'm saying is I have my doubts about these drastic budget cuts and the impact it will have on children and the safety issues involved if the school district isn't going to bus then I think we need to start thinking of ways to keep the buses without it being a burden on the SD. The SD should go with a company like US COACH WAYS so our children don't have to be left out of the loop
        • reply
          by Anonymous on May 24, 2012 at 09:24 AM in reply to james
          You are a Babbling Idiot! There is not one News story that you dont comment on. Get a Life Loser!
    • reply
      by Rosellee on May 24, 2012 at 07:31 PM in reply to james
      Yeah...cuz homeless peope are rapists and kidnappers. You are nuts! You shouldn't have kids!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on May 24, 2012 at 09:30 PM in reply to Rosellee
        You forgot to add substance abusers and generally dirtbags.
    • reply
      by mike on May 24, 2012 at 09:26 PM in reply to james
      Maybe you, as a parent, should begin taking responsibility for your child and personally drive your child to school--what a novel idea. Grow up and begin being the parent you should be.
    • reply
      by mike on May 24, 2012 at 09:43 PM in reply to james
      Maybe you should move closer to your child's school--what a thought. Take some responsibility for your own kids you idiot. We live in the north area and many of us have been fuming for years at the waste of school funds busing causes. Every day--three times a day--three large buses driven by three different drivers sail up and down 23 road with just one or two kids on each bus. Bus drivers don't work for free. The big buses drink gas like there's no tomorrow. Then there's the cost of tires, tune-ups, and on and on. Now, multiply this example by 75 buses. None of it is free. You are an idiot.
  • by Parent on May 23, 2012 at 08:14 PM
    You guys can argue back and forth all you want but the bottom line is that having our children walk 2-3 miles to school is without a doubt a safety risk...My 9yr old will have to walk down Patterson and My 6th grader will have to cross both Patterson and North Ave (not to mention that in the Winter he will be doing this in the dark). I am a VERY responsible parent and very involved in my kids life but I also have to work and cannot walk or drive my children everyday, so are you saying that I am an irresponsible parent? By the way I DID vote for the mill levy...
  • by Duh! on May 23, 2012 at 06:27 PM
    I hate to tell you whining parents that this is only the beginning of cuts. If you don't like sending your kids that far to school, then you better get used to driving them or walking them. The fears of something happening to your kiddos are real, but this is reality.
    • reply
      by Involved Mom on May 23, 2012 at 07:46 PM in reply to Duh!
      I agree - we already don't live close enough for a bus and I always drive or walk or bike with my children to school. If I or my husband can't for some reason, we make arrangements with someone else. Our children are our responsibility, not the school's.
      • reply
        by Amazed on May 24, 2012 at 02:03 AM in reply to Involved Mom
        Wow, someone who has the brainpower to realize that their kids are their responsibility. I congratulate you, you have likely already made it far in life and from the sounds of it your kids will too :). Thank you for not trying to act like the school district is victimizing you
      • reply
        by mike on May 24, 2012 at 09:30 PM in reply to Involved Mom
        Dear Involved Mom I like your thoughts. Unlike James, you sound like a real parent.
  • by Barb Location: GJT on May 23, 2012 at 06:14 PM
    I don't see a problem with walking or riding a bike 2 miles round trip. I did farther when I was younger. Its good for them.
  • by MeFirst on May 23, 2012 at 05:45 PM
    If there was any doubt about where the teachers true passions lie, there shouldn't be now. Without the teachers (through their union of course) demanding a pay raise, there would have been NO teacher cuts! But now, our childern will be forced into even larger classrooms, have less on-site administrative support and for what!!! All because they demand a pay raise at the expense of our kids. These people will look you straight in the eyes and TELL you how much your kids mean to them but their ACTIONS will clearly sacrifice the kids' education if it means more money for them.
    • reply
      by Get Real on May 23, 2012 at 07:47 PM in reply to MeFirst
      The teachers care about the children, but they have to make a living. They have expenses to pay just like you.
      • reply
        by Ooosie on May 24, 2012 at 04:33 AM in reply to Get Real
        I don't think anyone begrudges them a pay check. Just don't pretend "It's all about the childern". It's not. It's about their paychecks first and foremost.
    • reply
      by HonestyFirst on May 27, 2012 at 09:26 AM in reply to MeFirst
      The teachers were told that there would be no cuts if they were given back 1 of the 6 days they lost and one step in the last 4years of no raises. Their union leader was not quite honest. (by the way his wife just got a nice admin job...go figure!) we would not agree to a raise if there was to be cuts...the workload gets tougher on the school staff. Everyone gets mad at the teachers for getting the raise that equals about $300 a year but no one complains that all the admin and middle managers got raises as well. What do they do in the schools?
  • by troof on May 23, 2012 at 04:59 PM
    The people who are complaining about this are most likely the same people who voted down the mill levy...ah, the irony.
    • reply
      by YepYep on May 23, 2012 at 05:39 PM in reply to troof
      You're probably right. But the this is, I bet these people want to see cuts in very specific areas and the district just does not listen. So why should they be supportive of increased funding?
KKCO NBC 11 News
2531 Blichmann Avenue
Grand Junction, CO 81505

Station Phone: 970.243.1111
Business Fax: 970.243.1770
Newsroom Fax: 970.245.3793
News Tip & Contest Line: 970.255.8477
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 153318655 -
Gray Television, Inc.