Recruitment of volunteers to lead the Walking School Bus will take place until March 30. If you would like more information or volunteer, please call the elementary school closest to you.
USD 428 won’t be running school bus routes to get children to school anytime soon, but this spring it will be implementing the Walking School Bus program at each of its five elementary schools.
Last fall Riley Elementary was one of 15 pilot schools in the state to match volunteers with students to walk designated routes to school. An average of 70 children walked three different routes daily during the six-week program.
The program will kick it up a notch on April 1.
The district will continue its partnership with PedNet Coalition, a non-profit organization that promotes active transportation through advocacy and educational programming. The Walking School Bus is a program in which a group of children walk to school under adult supervision. It allows children to have a safe, consistent system to walk to school on a regular basis, even when traffic, weather and crime are concerns.
“This program is hot in Barton County,” said Robert Johnson, PedNet director of consulting. “Great Bend will have five and Hoisington has two.
“This has been really successful at Riley,” Johnson said, explaining the success comes from complete support of the district.
The administration and all of the elementary school principals are on board.
“I’m excited about the walking school bus for many reasons,” said Park School Principal Phil Heeke. “One, it promotes physical activity that will help students focus when they get to school.
“Two, it will cut down on tardies and attendance issues,” Heeke said. “Third, it promotes social interaction on the way to school.
“When I was in elementary school walking to school was a given,” he said. “I walked to school and home with my friends almost every day unless we had bad weather. This program gives to young kids what we took for granted.”
All of the coordinators for the Walking School Bus are teachers. They include Bryan Scott, Riley; Alana Blessing, Park; Tyler Shirley, Jefferson; Meredith Funke, Lincoln; and Gwen McDonald, Eisenhower.