Rush-hour walk to school a concern in Catonsville Students to ride bus until safety committee examines busy area

August 21, 1998|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

Fearing that their children might have to walk to classes in rush-hour traffic, a group of Catonsville parents who live near Hillcrest Elementary School has mobilized to get bus service when school opens Wednesday.

The 34 students were redistricted to Hillcrest Elementary from Catonsville Elementary School this year when boundaries were drawn for the area's new school, Westchester Elementary, on Old Frederick Road near Oella.

Under school policy, no bus service is offered to students who live within a one-mile radius of their school, said John M. Markowski, the Baltimore County school system's chief financial officer.

But school officials told parents last week that a bus would pick up the children until Sept. 23 -- when the system's transportation safety committee examines the area off Frederick Road at Magruder Avenue, about two blocks from the school, where the children would walk.

Parents said they are concerned that small children would be PTC walking during morning rush hour, when southwest-area commuters use Frederick and Rolling roads as main feeder routes to Interstates 695 and 95. Students from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and nearby Catonsville Community College also jam the roads on their way to early classes, said Bonnie Homes, a parent.

"Our concern is for the safety of our children," said Homes, whose three children will be attending kindergarten and second and third grades at Hillcrest. "The route where they would have to walk to school has no sidewalks, and bushes protrude out so that children could not walk on the roadside. And cars come around there pretty quickly."

Rita Fromm, the school system's transportation director who oversees 700 buses in the county, said she and a group of other school officials visited the route last week and found few problems.

"We didn't find any conditions that we thought were exceptional or unusual," Fromm said. "If we had, we would have recommended transportation."

But Fromm said her office will rely on the safety committee's recommendation to Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione.

County Councilman Stephen G. Sam Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat, sent a letter to Markowski Wednesday seeking bus service for the entire school year.

Pub Date: 8/21/98

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