Debate over city bus proposal for Minneapolis high schools

10:27 AM, Oct 7, 2011   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- A debate is brewing over a proposal to make some Minneapolis high school students take the city bus to school next year.

With the start of fall and the start of classes, Mary Hanson is a busy south Minneapolis mom. "I have a 4th grader, a 6th grader and an 8th grader," says Mary.

Mary's 8th grader will be in high school next year and with a proposal on the table to stop using many of those big yellow buses, he may be taking the city bus to get there.

"He would have to take two or three busses depending on the time of day going to and from school," she says.

Mary is also concerned about her son's safety, as are many parents. They've been posting comments about the district's bussing plan on the KARE 11 Facebook page.

There are a few proposals, but the bottom line is this: high school students who live more than two miles from school get a bus pass and will use Metro Transit instead of the school bus. The plan could affect some 4,000. Depending on which option the district goes with, it could either save money or most likely, cost up to $5 million.

"We feel that if this is an effective program it will help us in our retention rates and our attendance rates," says Stan Alleyne with Minneapolis Public Schools.

The district ran a city bus pilot program last summer, success district officials say, touting more opportunities to take part in after school programs and exposing kids to the real world and responsibility.

Mary Hansen isn't so sure. "Some of our neighborhoods are really unsafe...and if you are walking that way, transferring. I think it creates a lot of reasons not to get to school," she says.

"If you're from NY or if you're from Seattle and some other cities like Cincinnati, you've been exposed to this and people are used to this as part of their culture. It's not part of our culture here so it's new and people have concerns about that," says Alleyne.

The proposals are still being vetted. The district is going to continue to take input and ideas until the end of the month but they hope to have a plan in place to implement next fall.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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