District 194 reinstates transportation safety zones

Parents being notified online

School District 194 is implementing transportation safety zones starting this fall and into the future.

Safety zones are areas where students are provided busing to their designated school because of traffic and safety concerns although they live close enough to be designated walkers.

A Transportation Safety Committee determined criteria for the zone areas where students will be able to ride the bus and pinpointed roads students should not cross in Lakeville.

The roads are Cedar Avenue, Kenwood Trail, Dodd Boulevard, County Road 46, Highview Avenue south of Dodd Boulevard, Interstate 35, 185th Street, and 210th Street west of Holyoke Avenue.

Parents can also opt to pay for transportation for students who live less than 0.8 miles from elementary and 2 miles from a secondary schools and are not living in a safety zone.

The fee is $150 per student with a cap of $300 per family if paid before July 14 of the upcoming school year.

After that date, the fee increases to $175 per student and $350 per family.

Those students will be assigned a bus to ride based on available space in existing buses and established bus stops.

Families can also appeal to the Transportation Safety Committee to have their location included in a safety zone by filling out a form online at isd194.org or calling the district at 952-232-2030.

Factors used to determine whether a student in a designated walking area is eligible for busing include the student’s age, traffic volumes and speeds over 40 mph as well as limited visibility conditions and railroad tracks.

Michael Baumann, District 194 executive director of business services and incoming superintendent, said the district is primarily using its website and social media to disseminate information about the safety zones to parents.

This fall, the school district is also eliminating the $150 per-student busing fees charged families of students bused who live within 2 miles of a school.

The program, implemented during 2009-2010 budget cuts, has proved massively unpopular with district parents, many of whom protested the fee by refusing to pay it and instead driving their children to school themselves.

For years, the district has grappled to manage the resulting flood of vehicles around schools and lined up on streets at start and end times of the school day, raising alarm of city officials as well.

District officials are hopeful the busing changes will improve road safety and reduce the effects of long lines of cars in roads.

“We do know from a safety perspective, the safest ride to school is the yellow bus,” Baumann said.