Oak Ridge parents worry over parent responsibility zone changes

Oak Ridge parents worry over parent responsibility zone changes

Posted:
Last month, the Oak Ridge School Board voted to change the parent responsibility zone. Last month, the Oak Ridge School Board voted to change the parent responsibility zone.
By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

OAK RIDGE (WATE) - Hundreds of Oak Ridge parents worry a new school district policy may put their children in danger, according to an online petition.

Last month, the Oak Ridge School Board voted to change the parent responsibility zone, which refers to the homes not eligible for school bus use because of the proximity to schools, and in that zone parents are instead responsible for providing transportation.

The Oak Ridge School Board voted to expand the PRZ to 1.5 miles for all grades. Before, the PRZ was 0.15 mile for elementary students and 0.25 for middle and high school students.

There’s an online petition to stop the changes which has already garnered more than 360 signatures.

"The children's safety shouldn't be a part of any kind of budget cut," Oak Ridge parent Daniel Morgan said.

Morgan has three children in the Oak Ridge school system and said because of the new changes, they will have to walk between 35 and 40 minutes each way to school, covering almost four miles a day.

"Children this age should not have to walk to and from school by themselves unsupervised," Morgan said.

6 News spoke with Oak Ridge School Board Chairman Keys Fillauer who said the decision is an effort to make up for a $1.25 million budget deficit.

Fillauer said the cuts to bus service will save about $500,000.

“If I had $500,00 today, we'd restore the bus transportation but that is one of the items that had the least impact on student learning in the classroom," Fillauer said. "The board was very adamant that we did not want to do anything that would directly affect classroom teaching."

Parents like Jamie Goskowicz said they’re not able to provide transportation for their children on their own because of their work schedules.

"A lot of people in Oak Ridge have to work the 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. shift and we rely on the school bus," Goskowicz said. "The younger ones, I think they need to have bus services because when they're in school, they're under their safety and we're supposed to trust in the school to keep them safe."

Fillauer said he’s hoping the community will work together to find solutions and said one parent group is already making plans for carpools.

“Let's look at this as what it is and there's going to be some concerns so let's communicate and work through these issues," Fillauer said.

Goskowicz said she feels the school board should make cuts elsewhere.

"They should cut some staff in some areas,” Goskowicz  said. “Not necessarily the teachers but the higher paid ones."

"Let’s suppose we cut an administrator who's $85,000 dollars. Where do I get the rest?" Fillauer said. "We had to find the $1.25 million dollars. One of the cuts was delaying the purchase of social studies textbooks to the tune of $400,000 and the other one is to extend the parent responsibility zone to 1.5 miles."

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