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Rally Fizzles, But Hartford Parents Still Push For More Transportation Money


September 23, 2009

HARTFORD — - A planned rally to convince the Hartford Board of Education to reinstate $4 million in transportation funding didn't materialize Tuesday, but parents still urged the board to put the money back.

Two years ago the district increased its transportation distance guidelines for students in order to promote its open choice policy and encourage families to choose schools outside their neighborhoods.

But with the district facing a $21 million deficit, and as school officials looked for savings outside of staff reductions and the classroom, transportation funding took the hit. Some bus routes were eliminated, forcing students to walk to school.

"We preserved jobs and educational services," Superintendent Steven Adamowski said at the school board meeting Tuesday.

Adamowski said it appears the district saved about $3 million and that the remaining money could be taken from the district's contingency reserve fund, but that mattered little to Milly Arciniegas.

Arciniegas, president of the Hartford Parent Organization Council, told board members that she had heard from many parents since school began three weeks ago. She said parents have told her about their children's being late to class because of long walks, of worrying about their children's safety while crossing busy streets or navigating unsafe neighborhoods, and of the difficulties of having to juggle work responsibilities with walking their children to school.

"This $4 million is simply not worth it for the safety of our children," Arciniegas said. "This is not the answer. Give the children what you promised them: transportation."

Most of Hartford's walking distances are aligned with state Department of Education guidelines, except for kindergarten to second-grade students, whose half-mile walking distance is half of the state's 1-mile limit.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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