Mayor Brown Concerned About Childrens' Safety Without District Busing
Two Trenton parents asked council members and Mayor Gerald Brown to urge school board members to reconsider cutting busing.
Former Wayne County Sheriff's Deputy and Trenton parent Mike Royal's face began to turn red as he spoke about district busing at Monday's city council meeting.
Royal and his wife Deena asked Mayor Gerald Brown and council members to urge Trenton School Board members to reconsider a recent budget cut that cancelled busing for general education students.
"I've come to you tonight with a concern I have with busing at the school district," Royal said. "I would like to ask the city council tonight to put your heads together and come up with something to try to help out this issue that is a month away."
Royal, 47, has a son named Dean, 11, who is starting at Boyd W. Arthurs Middle School, and Royal said it isn't safe for his son to walk to school.
On June 13 board members adopted the 2011-12 school year budget without busing and parents have expressed considerable concern at the decision.
The Royals say they have just one concern—the safety of the children.
Royal and his family live on Mount Faucon Street, which is south of Van Horn Road and East of Fort Street. The speed limit on Fort Street in the area is 50 mph.
"There's not even crossing walk lines that go across Fort Street or Van Horn," Royal said. "Nothing's been addressed on how these kids are going to get to school."
Mayor Gerald Brown said he and members of city council have discussed the issue with Chief William Lilienthal and interim Superintendent Larry Leapley, and each share concerns about the safety of children walking to school.
"I have a law enforcement background, so I have a vested interest in getting kids to school safety," former Brown said.
Brown is a former chief of police in Trenton.
Brown said he is worried about the area where the Royals live and other areas where there are not crosswalks for pedestrians.
"We are urging, through our conversations with the administration, the school district to reconsider their decision to do that (cut busing for general education students)," Brown said. "And for obvious reasons. For the safety of the children."
Brown said the obligation for creating a new crossing guard program lies with the city and not the school district.
He added the district made the decision to save $400,000 by cutting busing, but it would cost the city about $60,000 to make the streets safe for children walking to school.
"If we have to beef up our crossing guard program, we estimate it would cost about $60,000 to even handle that problem," Brown said.
Council member MaryEllen McLeod said the human cost is immeasurable in the event something were to happen to a child while walking to school.
"It's unfortunate that is has come to that in this community, because our community is as strong as our school district and our school district is as strong as our community and we work together," Brown said.
Brown said he hopes that in the next couple of weeks school board members will reconsider cutting busing.
Several other parents have expressed their concerns about the issue since the decision was made.
Brown said the police department will continue to meet with the school district administration to come up with a solution.
Council member William LeFever told Royal he feels the board will reconsider and reinstate busing.
"We have to have busing," LeFever said. "I think everybody up here (on city council) is united in that, and we are all putting pressure on. So, we are in your camp."