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School districts consider rerouting buses

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Students walk to school instead of riding the bus. Students walk to school instead of riding the bus.
Many districts cut routes to save money. Many districts cut routes to save money.
Autumn Phillips says she wouldn't want her children to walk across a busy street. Autumn Phillips says she wouldn't want her children to walk across a busy street.

By Adrianna Iwasinski, for NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Rising fuel costs have caused the Tulsa School District to eliminate some bus routes, according to the district's transportation spokeswoman Valerie Ciyrchesne.

"It's killed our budget," Ciyrchesne said. "Fuel-wise, there's just no way to cover the cost."

By decreasing the number of routes, Tulsa joined both Lawton and Shawnee in the move to cut back on gas costs.

Oklahoma City Public Schools consolidated some bus routes, but a district spokesperson said the cutbacks were not due to fuel costs. The district spent $1.5 million for fuel for the school year, but is constantly looking for ways to improve their budget.

Westmoore High School in Moore started cutting back on bus routes two years ago and the reaction from the community has been mixed.

"It hasn't really affected me because I drive my kids anyways," parent Stephanie Hilburn said.
Hilburn's friend, Lisa Glass, suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and can't drive. Glass lived too close to have bus service for her children.

"My kids had to walk in the rain or snow," Glass said. "It's hard."

Edmond school administrators considered all their bus routes for the upcoming academic year, and decided not to cut any of them.

"We are looking at consolidating some stops to possibly make some routes quicker and more efficient," said Edmond Associate Superintendent Bret Towne.

Some students living less than half a mile from their schools will receive the option to ride school buses. Many of the schools who offer the option are surrounded with busy four-lane streets and no sidewalks, which poses a safety concern to students.

"I wouldn't want my kids walking that far across busy streets," mother Autumn Phillips said. "I think it's good."

Norman School District also chose to keep all of its routes intact, but will only provide service to students living more than a mile and a half away from their schools.

The State Board of Education said law does not require that state to reimburse districts for providing bus service within a mile and a half radius of schools, but most schools do continue with the routes as a courtesy to their parents and students.

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