Several parents spoke out at Tuesday's board of education meeting with concerns about the elimination of hazardous busing for students living in the Mt. Pleasant Villas complex behind , saying it is too far for young children to walk.
The board of education had previously made a decision to give permission to the township to construct a , connecting the complex to the primary school. The construction was paid for by a $20,000 grant from the Regional Center Partnership.
"I think it's a service to the community," said Superintendent of Schools Michael Schilder.
In allowing for the construction of the path, the district has eliminated the need for hazardous busing for students in the complex.
Hazardous busing is provided to students who would normally not have buses because of their proximity to their schools, but who would have to cross a major highway or travel through woods or other hazardous conditions to get to the school on their own.
Students in the Mt. Pleasant Villas complex did receive hazardous busing until the path was constructed.
And many parents said Tuesday that they believe the school is too far away, and the path could be dangerous for children in grades kindergarten through fourth.
For families living at the end of the complex, one parent said, it could be a 20- to 25-minute walk, and on snowy or rainy days, that could take a toll on the children.
Business administrator Peter Starrs said the longest distance is about a half mile from the complex to the school.
But parents said they are still concerned that this path is not safe for the children, particularly in bad weather.
"We will maintain the path, it's on our property in terms of maintenance and clearing of snow," Schilder said. "And apartment owners must keep their sidewalks clear as well. But we have not seen any strong request for children not to be walking."
Board of education member Jeffrey Brookner said there are many students around the district who are in similar conditions, including his own children who have to walk across well-traveled streets and through overgrown fields to get to because they do not have hazardous busing either.
"Truth be told, we looked at the path," he said. "If I was told we were adding 250 kids to busing, I could find 250 kids who have to walk who are in a more difficult situation [than those behind Adamsville]."
"Even if we were looking to spend more money on buses, that area would not be the first priority," he added. "I know it can be difficult to lose something you once had, and without the path getting there is difficult, but now the path is there."
Board of education member Lynne Hurley said the path is adjacent to another path students use to walk to school.
"We have other elementary schools where students are walking further, and it would be inappropriate [to have the busing] now that we have the path," she said.
Still, residents said they are concerned for the safety of the children, but board of education members said there is an extensive number of walkers among students in the kindergarten through fourth grade schools all across town.
"There's two issues, the first is the path itself, which I'm going to entrust to our groundskeepers to make sure it's kept safe because no one wants to build a path for it to be unsafe," said board of education president Evan Lerner. "The distance issue seems to be that you're now part of a group of parents who have kids walking to school, and it doesn't feel right."
"If you find the path is not being maintained, I think you should bring that to the board's attention," he added. "But you're not being treated any differently than others in the schools, this is just new."