Third Grader’s Death Prompts District To Revive Bussing

(January 22)  Spurred by the death of an 9-year-old girl and injuries to her 7-year-old brother as they were crossing a street en route home from Etiwanda Colony Elementary School, the Etiwanda School Board last week voted to reverse its decision three years ago to end school bus service.
The board members were confronted with petitions signed by hundreds of parents requesting the return of bussing for the students.
During the 2010-2011 school year, the board terminated district bus service, based on the cost it represented.
An informal survey indicated district voters were overwhelmingly averse to assessments to defray the cost of district bus service. State law does not require districts to provide bus service to pupils other than those who qualify as so-called special needs or special education students. The state partially subsidizes the provision of bus transportation within school districts that offer it, but a significant portion of the cost must be borne by the district.
The death of Ashlyn Gardner, a third-grader who was crossing the street at East Avenue at Banyan Street in Rancho Cucamonga with her younger brother when they were struck by a pickup truck, galvanized the community of Etiwanda, which  was one of the three former wine-producing districts including Alta Loma and Cucamonga that combined in 1977 to form the city of Rancho Cucamonga.
Calculating that the cost of bussing a single student to school each year ran to more than $700, board members gambled three years ago that they could eliminate the district’s bus service without dire or fatal consequences. They lost that bet.
On January 17 they collectively consented to reestablishing bus service for Etiwanda Colony Elementary, Summit Intermediate, Heritage Intermediate, Day Creek Intermediate and Etiwanda Intermediate schools, utilizing seven busses, effective at the return of students from Spring Break in April  for the two remaining months in the school year.
Board members referred to the change as a “pilot program,” saying they would determine at the end of the school year whether to continue with the transportation program when school starts again in August.

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