EDITORIAL: People spoke out on busing issue

Oak Harbor School District should start thinking about Plan B now that Plan A for reducing school bus transportation costs was greeted so negatively by the public.

The idea was to suspend school bus service within one-mile of the schools, because state transportation funding is not provided for such close-in service. With no state funding, it made sense to some to suspend bus service within those areas. Older adults, after all, remember walking a mile or much farther to school in their day.

However, concerned parents as well as the U.S. Navy took strong stands against the proposal at a public meeting last week. The Navy spokesman raised quality of life issues. It would be disruptive to Navy families to have to arrange their children’s transportation to public schools, or from schools to nearby daycare centers.

The other major issue was safety, for children of civilian as well as Navy families. Oak Harbor isn’t the fictional Pleasantville, with wide, tree-line boulevards, minimal traffic and happy neighbors waving at passing school children. The reality is it’s a traffic jungle out there in most places. The danger is just too high to allow children to walk to school. There are other dangers as well, related to the number of convicted sex offenders living in this area.

It’s understandably frustrating for public agencies to be met with strong opposition every time they try to reduce spending, as several recent votes suggest the public demands. Any excess money spent on transportation has to come from somewhere, and in the school district’s case that’s education.

Regardless, the safety of our community’s children has to be paramount in making budget decisions. Retain the traditional school bus schedule and find something else to cut, painful as that is likely to be. The school district provided a forum for the people to speak, and they have spoken.

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