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Controversial Calculations: Parents in SE Bend neighborhood request bus stop for student safety | #schoolsaftey


BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The first week of school has some parent renewing the call for a new bus stop in Southeast Bend, but the Bend La-Pine School says the change would have to come from the state.

Parents in a southeast Bend neighborhood have made what might sound like a simple request: that Bend-La Pine Schools provide a school bus stop and ride to High Desert Middle School, which is about a mile and a half away.

The “about” is the issue.

Kari Huang says she and other parents in the Bridges community off SE 15th Street are fighting to get a school bus stop for their kids due to safety concerns. Huang’s daughter just started going to High Desert Middle School this week.

“Our children are in fact walking 1.5 miles and greater from the Bridges to the parking lot at High desert,” Kari Huang said.

But there’s been some controversy over how the measurement is taken, as the school’s property extends nearly a half-mile from the campus and parking lot. Some parents call it unfair, saying the school calculates the distance in a way that assures bus service isn’t required.

In response to the issue, Bend-La Pine Schools Communications Director Scott Maben said changes are up to the state and sent the following message to NewsChannel21:

“We understand the concerns some families have shared about the distance their students walk or bike to get to school and return home. The 1.5-mile radius from middle and high school campus boundaries is set in Oregon Department of Education rules. The state funding that our school district receives to provide student transportation is based on this rule, defined by the distance a student travels between home and the nearest point of the school’s property.”

The Oregon Department of Education also pointed to state stature saying it’s a matter of state legislation in response to the questions about the distance calculation and who is responsible for making changes that would allow a bus stop.

According to the district, Huang lives 1.1 miles away from the school, which makes her and other families in her neighborhood illegible for bus service. Based on mobile app directions from her home to the school address at 61111 SE 27th St, Bend, OR 97702, Huang lives exactly 1.5 miles away from High Desert Middle School.

Huang pointed to safety concerns she believes the district should consider for the safety of its students walking the pathway at Ferguson includes kids having to walk through icy conditions, where they can slip and fall during winter.

“There’s no houses, there’s not any cars on that trail that can see if something were to happen, if someone were to abduct a child or whatever,” Huang said.

For kids who walk to school, they currently have. to walk through the construction site along Ferguson Road where there aren’t sidewalks.

“Even when it’s not under construction, it is not in a neighborhood, this is a cut-through. People are driving fast,” Huang said.

Bend La- Pine Schools says sidewalks should e available to students by the end of the week.

Other parents and community members choosing to stay anonymous reached out to NewsChannel21 saying the boundary the school is choosing to use for bus stop calculation is arbitrary and they’re disappointed in the lack of response from the school board members and superintendent Steven Cook about the matter.

“They have made the boundary start a half a mile before the school, saying that children have arrived at their final destination,” Huang pointed out in frustration. “They have not arrived at their final destination. School buses do not let kids out at this corner. Faculty and Staff do not park their cars here.”

One Bend resident choosing to remain anonymous highlighted that students are still expected to walk or bike in inclement weather even though the school district might close early. Additionally, the resident pointed out there’s no relief for the students on the pathway on smokey days when air can be hazardous, and that the pathway is poorly maintained and not well lit.

The district does offer an option for providing transportation to families inside the non-transport zone through its Courtesy Rider Request Form. It also shared that it works closely with Commute Options to help students and families find safe walking/rolling paths to school and provides alternative routes for students that attend High Desert can use.



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