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Student safety in question

Parent claims there are no safe walking routes on Talmadge

Brigham Workman, 12, front, uses the bike lane on Talmadge Road to walk home from Talmadge Middle School on Monday afternoon. Bradley Meyer, 11, left, and Corbin Meng, 11, follow.

Photo by Emily Mentzer

Brigham Workman, 12, front, uses the bike lane on Talmadge Road to walk home from Talmadge Middle School on Monday afternoon. Bradley Meyer, 11, left, and Corbin Meng, 11, follow.

December 03, 2013

INDEPENDENCE — When John Peterson's daughter, Emma, started at Talmadge Middle School this year, she no longer was eligible to ride a school bus home.

Her neighborhood in Park Place is within the 1.5 mile state-mandated requirement for secondary students to walk to school. But Peterson disagrees with the law, saying the roads between his home and the middle school are not safe for pedestrians.

"That stretch of 16th Street going into Talmadge does not have a sidewalk," Peterson said. "They're telling me she lives too close to Talmadge Road, so they won't transport her."

He said the road is narrow, and the speed limit is 35 mph.

"It's ridiculous," Peterson said.

So far, Peterson’s is the only complaint Patti Green, Central School District director of transportation, said she has received about bus routes.

She said that because there is a safe route for Emma to walk, she cannot put a stop there or risks losing state funding.

"Every ineligible stop that falls within a walk zone that hasn't been deemed unsafe, from that point forward until completion of the route, those miles are not refundable by the state funding program," Green said.

Every bus route in the district was re-evaluated over the summer after the repurposing of Henry Hill Elementary School. Some neighborhoods that had always had bus stops became walk zones.

Peterson's neighborhood has always been a walk zone, Green said.

The safe route is not the most direct route, and is twice the distance — 1.2 miles versus 0.6.

"None of the kids in this neighborhood use that route," Peterson said. "Common sense would tell you that that's not correct."

Green said any supplemental bus stops would have to be approved by the Oregon Department of Education.

"We do look at routes," Green said. "The fastest isn't always the best. You have to weigh the choices of safety versus fastest."

Peterson said the situation is an accident waiting to happen.

"It's negligent," he said. "She won't do anything until someone is clipped, in intensive care, or dies."

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