Pebble Valley Busing Cuts Upset Waukesha Parents
Walk from Pebble Valley neighborhood to Summit View Elementary no longer considered hazardous by the Waukesha School District.
A proposal to cut busing for Pebble Valley students living about 1.9 miles from Summit View Elementary School drew strong criticism from families in the area, citing safety concerns, financial hardships and impacts to students who have to walk nearly 4 miles a day to get to school.
State law requires school districts to provide busing to students who are two miles from school. However, Pebble Valley students who live closer than two miles to school have historically been included in busing areas because they fallunder the district’s "unusually hazardous transportation" plan that allowed busing to prevent students from walking on dangerous roads. A revision of that plan will cut busing for 120 students, according to a school district document.
“If the Sheriff’s Department came back and said this is not safe, we wouldn’t even be here talking about this particular route,” said School Board Member Joe Como. “The Sheriff’s Department did say it is safe.”
Students would have to walk down North Grandview Boulevard crossing at Northview Road or down North University Drive at Northview Road. Both intersections are busy with traffic, especially in the mornings.
The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department did not have any problems with removing the unusually hazardous transportation plan for the Pebble Valley neighborhood with additional crossing guards and crossing lights, according to meeting discussion.
The Waukehsa School Board unanimously approved Wednesday night a modified unusually hazardous transportation plan that cut the busing for the sudents living less than two miles from the school. The changes are expected to go into affect in the 2013-14 school year, however, parents in the neighborhood plan to appeal the change.
The area is just one of many busy roads and intersections school children cross every day, Como said, such as East Avenue and Sunset Drive.
“We have questionable areas throughout our entire district,” Como said. “As a parent you have to figure out what that safe route is for your child. You don’t have to go down Grandview Boulevard. Many of us carpool our children if we are concerned — that does exist.”
Superintendent Todd Gray said there is the possibility of parents paying for the school bus with a fee of $1.46 a day.
Reactions on Waukesha Patch’s Facebook page were varied with some people concerned about safety while others felt the children should walk to school. At the school board meeting, the bus route cuts were fought by the Pebble Valley neighborhood.
“This is a bad intersection,” said Pebble Valley resident Harlan Clinkenbeard about Northview Road and North Grandview Boulevard. “I have seen a lot of accidents. The traffic backs up on two lanes in the morning. … You are asking those young kids to walk down Grandview and through a commercial area with taverns and with other kids of commercial activity…. And you are asking them to walk for over an hour round-trip from their homes to school every day. … It is dangerous and it is going to get worse.”
One woman told the Waukesha School Board she doesn’t want her children walking on North University Drive where college students are texting and speeding on their way to University of Wisconsin-Waukesha.
Another woman was worried about speeding college students, a methadone clinic located on North Grandview Boulevard and a homeless shelter at the corner of North Grandview Boulevard and Northview Road.
“If something happens to one of them, it will be the direct result of your actions,” she said.
Waukesha resident Kim Kober sought information from the Waukesha Police Department about the 10 intersections with the most intersections in Waukesha. Northview Road and North Grandview Boulevard was ranked at No. 5 but it is the only intersection in the top 10 accident-prone areas that would require children to cross, Kober said.
“Not one traffic count was done for our area,” Kober added. “It is very, very dangerous.”
Pebble Valley resident Ericka Mendez presented a petition with more than 100 signatures from the neighborhood asking to keep the busing routes to the Pebble Valley residents.
“Nothing has changed to make this area safer than it was 20 years ago,” Mendez said.
School Board Member Barb Brzenk said she drove the route in her car, adding that her heart goes out to the parents who want the busing route to remain. However, she added, her vote didn’t matter because the board was going to approve the changes.
“That is a long ride,” Brzenk said. “That is a long walk in cold, cold weather for all children. … I have grandkids. I wouldn’t want my grandkids to walk that distance.”
School Board Member Karin Rajnicek said she also walked the route with her children and her children were still full of energy after the walk. However, she agreed that safety concerns should be addressed at North University Drive and Northview Road.
“We waited there for so long for a time to cross,” she said. “I remember saying there needs to be a stoplight right here. … That is a dangerous intersection right there.”