Reductions in school bus routes are being considered by the city Officials looking for ways to save money next school year.

April 27, 1992|By Roger Twigg | Roger Twigg,Staff Writer Mark Bomster contributed to this story.

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-disabled students could be affected by the changes the school officials are considering.

The proposed changes would not affect some 4,000 special education and disabled 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 say.

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 say.

School officials already have received some negative responses from concerned parents, says 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]," says Mr. Hartsfield.

Roxanne S. Harrison, a parent liaison at Morrell Park Elementary School, says 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 says. "We had to go through this same thing last year."

Some parents of Morrell Park students say they worry that the loss of buses will force some students to cross through heavy traffic on Washington Boulevard. Some students might even be tempted to cross the busy railroad tracks a few hundred yards from the school, the parents say.

Only a small 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 say.

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