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Columbus Schools Reduce Bus Routes

The Columbus school district this year drastically reduced the number of bus stops for its high school students. A senior at Walnut Ridge says he's not happy about the changes.

"It was stupid that's what I think it was. I think it's too far to walk now."

The student is Daniel Magee, one of 9,100 high school students who ride the bus. For three years Magee's bus stop was minutes from his house. This year he has to walk nearly a mile to his sister's middle school.

"When it starts snowing, and if it snows really badly I'm going to have to walk the same distance," Magee said.

A spokeswoman for the district says that last year there were 1,400 bus stops. This year the district has reduced that number to 200. Kim Norris is spokeswoman for Columbus City Schools: "Rather than right on their street in front of their house, they have to go to the nearest open school. And so for the majority of our high school students they will be walking from zero to one mile," Norris said.

Ohio law says schools are not required to provide transportation for high school students. So when levees fail and budgets are cut, transportation services are often the first to go. Cleveland and Toledo City Schools do not bus any high school students. The communications director for the Toledo school district Patty Mazur says this is the first year in decades that the school district has only provided the minimum transportation services mandated by law.

"This is by far not an ideal situation for students, for parents, for the school district itself. So I hope that there are ways that we can remedy this situation," Mazur said.

Mayzur says Toledo will save nearly $1.8 million by cutting back bus routes. Columbus is saving $1.6 million. Norris says the savings are something the district promised to tax payers.

"One of our levy promises was to ensure that we are being as efficient as we can be with these transportation services," Norris said.

East side resident Cleveland Magee, Daniel's father, says the bus service is worth the extra money.

"Well you know something, if they save $3 million it's not worth one child losing their life. There's a lot of crime in the areas and now these children have to walk from a safe distance and now they have to extend that walk, which causes great concern to the adults," Magee said.

Norris says the district will monitor student attendance for the first few weeks to make sure students arrive to class.

Jen Monroe, WOSU News.