Bring Back the Buses
The majority of Beverley Hills, Northridge and Park Fairfax children will no longer receive transportation to and from Charles Barrett Elementary School (CBES). The Alexandria City Public Schools changed the busing standards for 2018-2019 stating that “ACPS will provide transportation to students in grades K-8 living beyond a one-mile walking distance from the school they attend, or where no paths within a one-mile walking distance from the school are free of hazardous areas."
Since most of our neighborhood is less than a mile from CBES and does not meet the distance rule required, parents received notices last week that ACPS would no longer be providing transportation for our children. However, the lack of sidewalks in our community make a walking commute to school extremely hazardous for young children.
Most homes here do not have proper garages, so a large portion of residences have at least one car parked on the street at all times. Combined with a lack of sidewalks, small children will be required to walk in the middle of the road to go around parked cars for the majority of their walk to and from school. They would have to navigate walking down the middle of streets during high traffic times like the morning commute when drivers, school buses, and city buses are all zig zagging the neighborhoods cramped and winding streets.
For instance, Chalfonte Dr is the main cut through street to Park Fairfax with heavy morning traffic traveling to I-395, and is also a main road that other smaller streets with no sidewalks would feed into on a walk to school. As it stands now, that street does not accommodate two way traffic when cars are parked on the curb. This change would require children to cross the extremely dangerous intersection of Chalfonte Dr, Farm Rd and Gunston Rd. This is a 4-way intersection with a 3-way stop. Gunston Rd does not have a stop sign coming up the hill and Chalfonte Dr is a blind spot to drivers. There is a DASH stop on the corner and visibility is often blocked by parked buses at that time of the morning. This is just one example indicative of the problem the whole neighborhood faces.
We cannot expect our young children to navigate parked cars, bikers, and other school and city buses while other cars are stopped and waiting for others to pass. This creates an incredibly unsafe environment for small children who are difficult to see as it is. They may not always see cars with drivers in a rush to get to work in the mornings, and the cars and bus drivers may not always be able to see them either. This is a recipe for a disaster and tragedy to take place.
The paths we have to school are not hazard free, and therefore do not meet the criteria laid out by the new policy. We are asking the ACPS School Board, Superintendent and Transportation Department to reassess their decision and bring back the buses for CBES.
Please stand with your school and community and help us by signing the petition below, asking ACPS to ensure our children's safety and bring back the buses.