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Drivers awaited congestion at Shawnee’s first day without busing

Traffic was at a standstill at the intersection of Selma Pike and East Possum Road Monday morning as a line of parents sat in their cars waiting to pull into Shawnee High School to drop off their students for classes.

Monday marked the first day of no busing at the high school. Clark County Sheriff’s deputies directed traffic at the intersection as cars exiting the high school sat on East Possum, halted by a slow-moving line of vehicles trying to enter the student drop-off from Selma.

“Who gets charged with child neglect when a child gets hit?” questioned William Grant, who dropped off two students at the high school after waiting in line nearly 20 minutes to get to the designated drop-off area. “What’s a child’s life worth?”

The backup began about five minutes after the first parents began arriving to drop off students, said Clark Shawnee Local Schools Superintendent Gregg Morris. He agreed the new system will take time to adjust to, and said changes can always be made in the future once a system is established.

“We want to make sure that we see a couple of days on a regular basis before any adjustments are made,” Morris said.

Morris said an estimated 300 students were dropped off by cars on Monday morning, meaning more than half of the students were transported by parents or car pool to the school. The high school has approximately 740 students, 220 to 240 who were already driving or riding to school.

A two-hour delay due to weather was only one of multiple concerns Grant had Monday morning. Grant called off from work in order to have his students to school at 9:30 a.m., instead of the normal 7:30 a.m. But his main concern with the no-busing system was for the safety of students who have to walk to school without sidewalks, coupled with a higher volume of traffic in the area as parents drop students off.

“I think the extra money (the school district is saving) isn’t worth a child’s life,” Grant said.

After a levy failed for the third time in less than a year in November, busing at the high school was expected to be eliminated Jan. 6. But the district announced just before Christmas the halting of busing would be pushed back to Monday, due to safety concerns. The decision cost the district approximately $15,000, said Morris.

According to ODOT and ODPS data, five accidents were reported within 500 feet of the intersection between 2010-2012, three of which resulted in injuries. There is currently a two-way stop at East Possum with no stop sign or light on Selma, where the speed limit is posted at 55 miles per hour.

One change organizers at the school hoped to make for this morning was that drivers would only stop at the main door of the school that faces Selma, instead of allowing students to exit vehicles at the door closest to East Possum. Morris hoped this would ease the congestion that occurred Monday.

Busing is a service that the school district hopes it can reinstate if future school levies pass, Morris said.

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