Baltimore school officials will examine bus service to 16 elementary schools and one middle school this week to determine if some routes can be discontinued to save money during the next school year.
Currently, the city provides contracted school bus service foabout 8,000 students who are picked up near their homes and driven to school.
As many as 3,400 non-handicapped students could be affected by the changes the school officials are considering.
The proposed changes would not affect some 4,000 special education and handicapped students. State law requires the city to provide contracted bus service for them.
Eliminating non-mandated bus service to all 17 schools could save the city about $1 million, school officials said.
The non-mandated service is provided for a variety of reasons, including desegregation, to protect students from hazardous conditions -- such as busy roads -- and to relieve overcrowding at some schools, school officials said.
School officials have already received some negative responses from concerned parents, said Howard C. Hartsfield, assistant superintendent of the school system's logistical support division.
"Many parents who have been receiving bus transportation for their children certainly don't want them to have to walk or take the MTA [bus]," said Mr. Hartsfield.
Roxanne S. Harrison, a parent liaison at Morrell Park Elementary School, said the school faces the loss of four buses, which carry 174 students -- more than one-third of the 450 children who attend the school.
"I have had a lot of phone calls from parents who are very upset," Mrs. Harrison said. "We had to go through this same thing last year."
Some parents of Morrell Park students said they are concerned that the loss of buses will result in students crossing through heavy traffic on Washington Boulevard. Some students might even be tempted to cross the busy railroad tracks located a few hundred yards from the school, the parents said.
Only a fraction of Baltimore's 110,000 public school students use buses to get to school.
About 20,000 students ride Mass Transit Administration buses, and the school system pays for the use of 391 buses for 8,000 students, some of whom attend non-public schools such as the Maryland School for the Blind, officials said.