SPRINGDALE, Ark — Last year, 9-year-old Carson was a student at Shaw Elementary in Springdale, but not anymore.
"I have to go to a different school," he said.
His mom Ashley says the reason why is because she has no transportation for my son to and from school anymore.
Springdale parents, including Ashley, are outraged after the district announced it is removing some bus stops, which will lead to kids walking and parents carpooling. Some have even considered leaving the district.
"We have more buses than we do employees,” said Springdale Schools Director of Transportation Kevin Conklin.
He and his team spent months trying to find the most effective way to transport kids to and from school.
"I realize there are shortages but that’s not the kids' problem," said Springdale parent Miranda H during a school board meeting Tuesday, Aug. 9. "You got one job and it’s to keep our kids safe and get them home.”
"We are trying to get kids to and from school on time,” Conklin said.
From 2017 to 2022, Springdale Schools says it’s had to cut bus routes by about 50%.
Parents like Chasity Shipley's biggest concern is safety.
"There’s no sidewalks on the street, people speed there all the time. It’s nearly a mile," Shipley said.
Nearly a mile, instead of what used to be a walk to the end of the street.
“If you’re willing to jeopardize your child's safety and doing that fine but don’t ask me to do it if you’re not going to do it [to] your child,” said Springdale parent Jamie M.
Carson will now have to navigate a new year, at a new school.
"I mean, I hope I don’t get bullied at the new school," he said.
Springdale says another reason it did it this way is so kids outside the city could still get transportation. Parents say they are still worried about their children walking along roads without sidewalks and with tall grass.
During the meeting, the school board also unanimously approved the "Commission School Security Officers" or CSSO program, which would add armed safety officers on school campuses.
This was recently recommended for districts by the Arkansas School Safety Commission. The details are still being worked out such as how the district will pay for the program. Superintendent Jared Cleveland says you can't put a cost on a child's life.
"I don't like the idea of a teacher carrying a gun necessarily cause teachers have enough responsibility, having a CSSO that is their only responsibility," said Springdale Police Captin Jeff Taylor.
In addition to the district's 21 resource officers, there are plans to add 18 new CSSOs to Springdale schools. Officers will be armed and uniformed to provide additional safety for students and staff.
"I mean it will really put us on protecting students, parents, families in our community," said a staffer with Springdale Schools.
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