PLACENTIA : Parents Protest Cuts in School Bus Service

About a dozen parents, angered by a decision last month to eliminate bus service for students in grades seven through 12, protested at the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District board meeting Tuesday.

Holding up signs that read, "What Happened to Children First?" and cheering each other on, the group told board members that the decision will affect their children's safety as well as their ability to get to school.

"We will see a tremendous number of kids not make it to school" if bus service is stopped, said parent Susan Lowry. "You are putting a stumbling block in front of them."

The board voted last month to eliminate busing as part of $3.5 million in budget cuts for the 1992-93 school year. Kim Stallings, assistant superintendent for administrative services, said cutting busing for secondary students will save the district $200,000 annually.

"So many important education programs were cut, including math and science teachers," Stallings said. "There was a decision that no program should be immune" from cuts.

Stallings said there was a chance that the district would find funds over the summer to reinstate busing for the 1,035 students who now ride the bus to school. The board is not considering eliminating busing at the elementary level, Stallings said.

Several parents at Tuesday's meeting reside in the Rio Vista Elementary School attendance area, part of which is in Anaheim. Students from that school usually go on to Kraemer Junior High School, about two to three miles away.

"My son would have to walk through neighborhoods with gang activity (and) cross two freeway overpasses with no guardrails" to get to Kraemer, said parent Mary Stevens.

Some of the parents were also upset that they had not been informed last month that the board was considering cutting busing for secondary students.

"I didn't even hear about it until Friday, when I picked my son up from school," Stevens said.

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