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Elimination of several bus routes by Pueblo County School District leaves parents concerned

Elimination of several bus routes by Pueblo County School

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. - The Pueblo County School District's latest budget cut, eliminating several bus routes, has parents concerned about their children's safety.

The District 70 school board voted last month to eliminate six to eight bus routes to save about $300,000. The routes eliminated include those that fall within a one-mile radius of elementary schools and a 1.5-mile radius of middle schools.

"We have had to make cuts in years past and we have tried not to make these. It's something that I really did not want to have to do," said superintendent Ed Smith.

District 70 contracts with First Student for transportation. Smith said the savings mean the district will have fewer buses.

The news is concerning to grandfather William Horn. His six-year-old grandson, Dominic, takes the bus to North Mesa Elementary School. But the bus won't be stopping at his home anymore.

"I'll have to drive him because, like I said, I wouldn't walk this street myself during that time of day."

The road in front of Horn's home, Gale Road, is narrow and doesn't have a sidewalk. Horn said there's no way he'd let his grandson walk to school.

"I mean if there was curb and gutter and sidewalk where they could walk down this sidewalk, I'd say yeah."

Even though the speed limit on Gale Road is 20 mph when students are present, Horn said he's seen some drivers treat the road like a highway.

"They'll run over somebody here," Horn said. "There's a number of people that I've hollered at. I've seen them run past the school bus when it stopped right here."

The Pueblo County School District faces a $2.1 million shortfall. Smith said in addition to the $300,000 savings from transportation cuts, the district has cut $1.3 million in administration costs. The remaining $500,000 shortfall is expected to be made up with more students entering the district next year.

Smith added that he didn't want to eliminate bus routes but said it was a better option than cutting costs in the classroom. He hopes parents come together and carpool.

Concerned parents plan to meet with the school board next week. They are hopeful they can reach a compromise.

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