Petition for Closer Bus Stops - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Petition for Closer Bus Stops

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DEVILLE, La. - Sending your child off to school for the first time can be scary. Especially if you're worried about what could happen just between your home and the bus stop.

News Channel 5's Kathleen Witte found one family that's petitioning for a shorter trip.

Every day, Janice Paulk meets her granddaughter Cheslie at the bus stop.

Janice Paulk, Buckeye grandparent: "I see little children that aren't fortunate enough to have somebody at the end of the road to pick them up. They're walking by themselves."

Since 2004, Rapides Parish buses aren't allowed to drive down roads that are shorter than a half mile. But Paulk says it's unsafe to let the 4-year-old pre-K student walk alone back to her house. That's why she's starting a petition to get the bus to come down J. Nugent Road to her driveway.

Paulk: "We have a parish road in front of our house. Why can't the bus just make that little extra step closer to safety?"

She says there are dangers for a small child traveling alone. Stray dogs, reckless drivers, even unfamiliar people.

Paulk: "We as parents and grandparents try to teach our children about strangers. Well to me we're letting them off so far from home, we're inviting the strangers."

But school officials say they made that policy for a reason.

Dr. Bill Morrison, Assistant Superintendent of Administration: "You have a single bus serve several schools, and several different time schedules. So the half mile stop drastically reduces the time on routes and pick-up."

And the school system's transportation department tells us it's a budget issue, and reducing time on the road actually reduces costs.

Morrison: "So that means we can use fewer buses to serve more schools and more time slots for the schools, which saves a tremendous amount of money."

Janice Paulk says she understands the parish's position, but she'll try whatever she can to keep her granddaughter safe.

Paulk: "I know in any kind of work field, our hands are tied in certain places. I just think if the community or the parish would speak out."

There are now 100 signatures on the petition to change the policy. And, we're told any change would have to come from the school board.

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