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Parents Protest Unsafe Route to School

Local parents are worried about the safety of their children.

Since the School Board’s decisions to close Branciforte Elementary and to cut the transportation budget, families are wondering how their children will get safely to schools 2-3 miles from their homes.

Many of the Branciforte students live in the neighborhoods surrounding Grant Street Park. In all three scenarios presented to the School Board these students are now in the Delaveaga attendance area. There is currently no safe route for these children to walk or bike to their new school. Many families are unable to drive their children to school, and without the transportation funds formerly available, there is no money for buses.
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How many children are going to be hurt? Run over? Kidnapped in the street from home to school because you didn't think about their safety before making a bad decision. (Note: There were 2 police reports of children being followed or chased after school the day before this demonstration; one on the westside, one in Capitola).
For the last several years Santa Cruz city Schools (SCCS) has attempted to integrate WestLake and DeLaveaga Schools by dividing up the Beach Flats community at Raymond St. and busing children to each of these two sites.

Following the vote to close Branciforte and Natural Bridges Elementary, SCCS administrators proposed three scenarios to reconfigure attendance boundaries. Both scenarios B and C propose a continuation of this busing even though these funds were cut last November. Scenario A proposes sending half of these students to Bay View and the other half to Gault, both schools within walking distance.

All three scenarios, however, propose sending former Branciforte students from upper Ocean St. (Grant St., Button St. Pryce St. Franklin St. Market St. etc.) to DeLaveaga Elementary with no announced transportation plan.

In order to demonstrate what these students are facing without such a plan, parents, teachers, children and supporters walked today from Grant Street Park to DeLaveaga School. This walk took fifty minutes, crossed seven busy intersections without traffic lights or walk signals (as well as passing a freeway onramp), and traversed dangerous streets without sidewalks.

Board member Cece Pinheiro was present and stated in an interview with Channel 67 that children living more than 10 blocks from DeLaveaga would need some kind of transportation system.

One parent approached the TV camera toward the end of this interview and addressed Channel 67’s audience stating that the Board has yet to come up with either funds or a concrete plan.

Last week at a meeting with School District administrators, Beach Flats parents were told that even if buses are provided next year there is no guarantee that the funding will continue from year to year. This would be true for the students from lower Beach Flats as well as upper Ocean St. The fifty minute walk to school we saw today could be a reality for these upper Ocean St. families.

The next School Board meeting will be this Wednesday, 6PM, at Branciforte Middle School on Poplar St. You can find contact information for board members at their website:

www.sccs.santacruz.k12.ca.us/html/boardNEW.html
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The group prepares to leave Grant street Park at 11:53AM
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Approximately eight minutes later the walkers reach the first intersection at Market St. where a police escort (that had been waiting at the park) asks for the route and then asks (quote) What are you going to do when you run out of sidewalk? (unquote) This woman comments (quote) That's what this is all about. There is no sidewalk! (unquote)
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After the police slowed traffic for the walkers at the Market/Grant Street intersection the group continues on alone along the sidewalk-less Market St.
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Fifteen minutes into the walk there's no sidewalk.
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Passing the Morrissey Ave. freeway entrance.
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Thirty Three minutes into the walk, after taking a rest for one minute in the shade of a tree, the group starts out again.
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DeLaveaga School is reached after fifty minutes
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Many parents feel that the costs of closing the schools meets or exceeds the projected savings...
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...and that the schools should remain open. Others feel that the wrong schools were closed; that the smaller Gault should have been closed instead of the larger, more centrally located Branciforte.
 
 


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Comments

Re: Parents Protest Unsafe Route to School

Nicely done article!
 

Metro "school term" bus trips: possible solution

I agree with Dave -- this is an excellent article!

If no solution is found, I would suggest that a group of parents lobby the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District for supplementary "school term" bus service to DeLaveaga Elementary School.

Public transit agencies are forbidden from offering dedicated school bus service, but they are free to extend regular bus routes to cover schools. Elsewhere in Santa Cruz County, Metro provides "school term" service in the Scotts Valley and San Lorenzo Valley areas. The extra bus trips are timed to the school day and run only during the school year. School students and members of the public can ride, but in practice "school term" trips are not promoted to the general public.

Although parents may not be accustomed to sending kids to school on transit, this is common practice in many other cities. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for example, there are no school buses for the public school system. Students even learn to transfer from one public transit route to another, in the downtown core. In Toronto, I rode public transit to school starting in the 5th Grade. Santa Cruz Metro, for its part, is a very safe transit system.

One of my goals for the Metro Riders Union was to help Watsonville-area parents lobby for "school term" transit service, in the wake of severe school bus cuts at the Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD). Though the passage of the $15 billion state deficit bond has eased budget pressures at PVUSD, I'd still like to organize people around this issue. I have already developed a map showing the schools and the existing Metro bus routes. Perhaps the initiative could be extended to Santa Cruz as well.

My parents and my husband's parents are all elementary school teachers, and we talked to them about transit. One suggestion was that chaperones ride with the students. I think an organized group of parents could convince Metro to provide free tickets to chaperones. In my wildest dreams, we could secure a $15-per-month youth pass, similar to what AC Transit, one of California's largest public bus systems, once provided.

Parents, students, school board members and others are encouraged to help out! The e-mail address is given above.
 

Re: Parents Protest Unsafe Route to School

As a relative newcomer from Chicago, I was amazed to see the schools in Santa Cruz are every bit as racially segregated as those of Chicago. It appears that the response to integration in Santa Cruz has been to form exclusionary charter schools. As long as the citizens of Santa Cruz allow the segregationists to be subsidized by the taxpayer, this situation is only going to get a whole lot worse. A recent article in the Sentinel indicated that almost 60% of the charter school parents have PhDs or other advanced degrees. Guess where those parents work? They are in large part the right-wing segregationist liberals that constitute the UCSC faculty.
 

bussing does not make a school

as of this wriiting there is still no funding for the transport of these students.

there are many parents who feel betrayed and angry by the closing of branciforte; those who wanted to bring legal action. bad feelings remain.

even if children are bussed those students never become 'regular' members of the sudent body.

it's much harder to be a part of the community when you can't hang out after school, wen you can't be in clubs, on teams and still have enough time to do your homework.

it's much harder fo families to participate if they are far away, working, and with limited transportation.

there is a perception that the richer, whiter parents can drive their kids to school, while the poorer, kids of color will take the bus.
 

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