ELKHART, Ind., — Elkhart Community Schools kept the change to their walk zone radius to two miles again this year due to lack of bus drivers. Some parents told ABC57 they’re concerned about their kids having to walk nearly an hour back and forth to school.
“I’m a single parent and I work so it’s hard for me to get her to and from school all the time,” said Mona Martinez, the parent of a student who attends the Elkhart Freshman Division.
Martinez is a working Elkhart parent unable to get her daughter to and from school every day.
Her child was among hundreds of other middle school, freshman, and high schoolers who live within a two-mile radius of their schools and no longer qualify for busing.
“That frustrates you as a parent, it’s like not very many people are able to take their kids to school sometimes,” Martinez explained. “I can understand if you’re like 5-10 minutes away but 45 minutes to an hour that’s a lot. Like a lot for her”
Martinez said her family lives here near North Side Middle School, which means her child would have to walk over 40 minutes to get to and from the Elkhart Freshman Division.
The route is just an easy six-minute drive but walking would require kids to walk along and cross busy streets like Jackson and Johnson.
Something Martinez was uneasy about.
“It’s different if they were having like sidewalks or we were in a neighborhood, but this is an RV industry like come on now. It’s too much traffic, it’s high volume traffic over here so that doesn’t make sense.”
The school district said the two-mile walk zone radius that was implemented last year for middle school, freshman, and high school students because of a bus driver shortage is less than ideal.
“We understand it’s a long walk and it’s the last thing we wanted to do,” said Jon Chevalier, the Director of Transportation at the school district. “In May of 21 we lost a referendum. The referendum was going to help us out in densely as far as be able to provide enough monetary marinating the drivers and the helpers.”
Both parents and the district said hope they can find a solution to ensure kids are getting to and from school safely every day.
“I think that they need to go back down and then sit down and rethink their bus situation that they got going on,” said Martinez.
“We would do whatever we can. If we had the capabilities we’d be more than happy to take care of that but for the time being we need to come together as a community to see what we can do to help one another,” added Chevalier.
Elkhart Community Schools is working to bring on more than 20 more drivers.
Information about open positions can be found here.
Transportation – Elkhart Community Schools
In the meantime, they encouraged those who may have to walk to school to find other families to carpool with if they can.
The district said they are also working with the Interurban Trolley to get pick up stops within that two-mile radius walk zone.
The walk zone for elementary students is anyone within a one-mile radius.