Bus 25 offers special situation

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Caylea Ray

Students question how district lines are drawn
After school, about 25 RBHS students line up in front of Bus 25. As they file onto the bus, the yelling begins.
While their classmates can expect to arrive home fairly quickly, some students on Bus 25 will spend more than an hour on the noisy bus until they reach their front door.
Junior Lindsay Morrison [pictured at left], who has ridden Bus 25 for two years, often does not get home until 5 p.m. Though the ride is slightly better in the mornings, lasting just shy of 30 minutes, the long ride home has resulted in many challenges.
“I have trouble balancing school work and chores in the little time I have at home because of how long I spend on the bus,” Morrison said.
While Bus 25’s route, which goes down Providence Road and passes Oakland Middle School and Hickman High School, may seem counter intuitive, Columbia Public Schools’ spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said a great deal of planning and thought went into how the district drew school boundaries.
“It took CPS two and a half years to decide on the district lines and there were hundreds of different scenarios. It was based on a primary list of parameters that the committee established, so everything from flexibility to building capacity to the distance students would travel [were considered],” Baumstark said. “We looked at balancing demographics to some degree, but it’s not as possible when you’re looking at a large area because we didn’t want to get into a situation where we would be busing students from the other side of town.”
Though the distance students on Bus 25 travel to get home might not seem vast on a map, the 11 miles across town that some have to cover round-trip translates into kids wasting hours on a bus instead of participating in extracurriculars.
“I definitely feel like I’m unable to do school activities because I have to figure out if someone can drive over and pick me up. I have missed school sports, games and dances because no one can take me that far,” Morrison said. “It’s a real inconvenience going to RBHS when I’m so much closer to HHS or Battle High School.”
Michael Cozad, who drives Bus 25, shares Morrison’s sentiments. Cozad said he understands the students’ complaints about the long bus ride and about living such a long distance from school.
“It’s almost an hour ride to get to school and another hour to go home. Most of them don’t have the option to get a ride because of how far away their school is,” Cozad said. “I don’t think students should be going to RBHS when HHS or BHS are 10 minutes away versus 30.”
Still, Baumstark said CPS gave the public the opportunity to contribute to the formation of the school attendance zones. There were numerous open discussions centered on how the district should draw the zoning lines, Baumstark said.
“We held open forums at the beginning of the process and we had a forum in the middle of the process to get feedback,” Baumstark said. “When it got to the point where they had several different scenarios for the Board of Education to consider, they held another set of forums for people to provide input, so it was a very open public process.”
Even though Morrison is not fond of the long bus ride home, she is still grateful she was able to go to RBHS, given that many of her long-time friends attend as well. She hopes the school district will also take into account students’ familiarity with the classmates they transition into high school with in future zoning decisions.
“I was happy I was sent here because I went to Gentry in middle school and that’s where I met all my friends.” Morrison said. “I hope they take this into consideration when they draw the lines for the school zones next.”
By Caylea Erickson
Feature photo by Devesh Kumar