Johnston School District Proposes Changing Student Eligibility for Busing Services

JOHNSTON, Iowa  --  A metro school says its tight budget is the reason it is being forced to consider taking away transportation services from students.

The proposal will affect less than 200 students at Horizon Elementary and Summit Middle Schools in Johnston, district officials say. Over the last two years, the district has slowly worked to change areas where students were bused to school to areas that are now considered "walk zones." Elementary students who live within a one-mile distance from the school and high school students who live within two miles of their school are ineligible for free busing services.

"There were a couple of areas that we delayed implementation because we didn't feel like they had infrastructures in place like crosswalks and lights," says Laura Kacer, the executive director of human resources for the district. "Now that those have been added by the city, we feel like we can go back and look at those areas and have a conversation about if it's safe for students to walk across the street."

The district is specifically proposing the the areas west of 100th Street and south of 62nd Avenue, and north of 62nd Street between 100th Street and 86th Street to become walk zones.

Last year, the city installed a four-way traffic light and pedestrian crossing signals in front of Horizon Elementary School at the corner of 100th and Windsor after district officials said the area was too dangerous for students to cross the street. Traffic reports show more than 6,000 drivers use that area every day and that number continues to grow. City leaders say taking steps to improve safety in the area was crucial.

"Even though the traffic didn't warrant signals, we decided it would be appropriate to put signals up to give students a safer crossing," says City Administrator Jim Sanders.

A meeting for parents to voice their concerns about the proposal will take place on April 2nd at 5 p.m. at Horizon Elementary School. The school board will vote on the issue on April 23rd.