Westerville News & Public Opinion

Temporary busing to Mark Twain

Path construction keeping students from walking, bicycling to school safely

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Delays in construction of the city's multiuse path along Walnut Street near Spring Road has made access to Mark Twain Elementary School and Walnut Springs Middle School difficult for students who walk or ride bicycles to school.

In the interim, the district will provide temporary bus service for those students to get them and from school safely.

The path is a way for students who live close to the two schools to safely walk or bike from their residences to the school.

Weather caused construction delays and students will need to temporarily reroute themselves to get to school as classes begin.

"Our concern is for students who have to walk or bike that area," Westerville City School District Superintendent John Kellogg said at the Board of Education meeting Monday, Aug. 11.

"We're making contingency plans with some transportation services for those families that would walk or use their bikes through there."

As of Monday Aug. 11, the temporary bus service was scheduled to run only through Friday, Aug. 15. Classes for the new school year began Wednesday.

Typically, the district buses students who live 2 miles or farther away from their home schools. The 2 miles are measured based upon an appropriate road path connecting the students' front door to the school.

Those living closer are expected to walk to school. The temporary bus service due to the construction project will provide them with a ride to school instead -- at least for a few days.

Two buses will make a total of five stops in the morning and the afternoon for Mark Twain students. Four buses will make a total of 13 stops in the morning and afternoon for Walnut Springs students.

The district encourages parents to have their children arrive five minutes early at the closest bus stop to their house.

Parents can find bus stop times and locations for both temporary routes on the school district's transportation website.

School board member Richard Bird said he was "extremely dissatisfied" the city did not complete the multi-use project in time for school to start.

"We have asked continuously for statuses on that particular project," Bird said. "We were concerned about it.

"I give respect and credit to Westerville city government for extending police traffic control and other considerations made, but here we are with an unfinished project that has safety concerns for both our children and our citizens," he said.

"We should not be in this situation."

Kellogg said the multi-use path project could be complete before the end of the week, but he wanted to provide secure transportation in the event that there are more delays.

The school board also approved this year's bus route schedule. There are a total of 90 routes to 32 locations for 9,178 students.

The stops were adjusted so there is a stop about every quarter mile instead of every half mile along the routes, district officials said.

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