Putney Central School is a kindergarten through eighth grade school in Putney, Vermont, a rural area with a town population of approximately 2,600 residents. Most of the students who attend Putney Central live a good distance from the school, and the combination of distance, unsafe drivers and lack of sidewalks prevent children from walking or bicycling there.
The community of Montpelier, VT, is promoting a different “Way To Go,” through an assortment of incentives and partnerships designed to help the program sustain itself in the future.
“Awareness is growing,” said Bill Merrylees, Wellness Coordinator for Community Connections, a non-profit after-school program that serves nine schools in two districts.
Since 2006, the number of walking school buses at Green Street School in Brattleboro, Vermont, has more than tripled, thanks to parents’ steady support of Safe Routes to School.
“The biggest barrier we faced and still face is the culture of driving kids to school,” said Alice Charkes, SRTS coordinator for Green Street School and a high school French teacher. “Most folks think it’s faster to drive to school and more convenient.” She believes that is primarily a perception rather than a reality.
Plain City, UT, is a small town of about 5,000 citizens. On June 27, 2006, the Weber County School District passed a bond to build a new elementary school in Plain City. The new school’s location is near three large subdivisions, which increased the number of students who walk to school from 270 students at the school’s old location to 420 students at the new location. Although the school is within walking distance, the narrow access road that leads to it poses access and safety issues for both pedestrians and motor vehicles.
The kindergarten through sixth grade students at Shelley Elementary School in American Fork, UT, have no bus system to take them to and from school.
The only buses available are intended for the pre-kindergarten students and those students in special education, which means the remainder of the student population, totaling 1,021 children, must walk, bicycle or carpool to school.