Parents concerned over expanded walk zones

Oak Ridge parents are speaking out after the school district announced changes to school bus routes. The school board expanded the distance of walk zones from each school.

Any student living within one-and-a-half miles from the school will have to walk or parents will have to pick them up. The changes are expected to impact 1,800 students.

It's a battle that Laurie Paine has been through before.

"This is the city talking. It's not just about me, it's not just about my daughter, it's about everybody in the city," said Paine.

Paine lost her daughter in 2007. She died after tragic accident while riding her bike home from school. After the accident, Paine fought to drop school walk zones because of student safety.

Now, she is looking to stop the expansion for the upcoming school year.

"There are so many things that go into it. If somebody doesn't take a stand, then nothing is going to change," said Paine.

She started a Facebook page and a petition to stop the walk zone. She's also planning a protest for the first day of school.

The school board made the expansion while balancing the budget. They asked the city for a property tax rate increase and were told no, so they looked for another area to cut.

"When you are looking at over a million dollars and obviously when your largest part of your budget are teachers and teacher salaries. And certainly by cutting teachers that would have a direct impact on classroom and classroom instruction. And that is something the board did not want to do," said school board president Keys Filhauer.

The move saved the district $500,000. Now they are looking for ways to make sure students make it to class safe.

"I think it is important we don't focus on what the negatives are. We look at what we have and find ways to work through those together and we will look at it with a more positive sense and find us a solution," said Filhauer.

Paine still has concerns over the busy intersections and roadways that surround some of these schools. Her petition has received more than 300 signatures, and she hopes they'll make an impact.

"I hope getting the signatures on the petition will help them realize how many people are effected and are upset about this and they need to make a change," said Paine.

Filhauer said one of the schools is already setting up a carpool for people concerned about getting to school safely. Paine's protest will be held on July 17th, the first day for some of the schools.


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