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Budget cuts lead to parent-led walking program in SJ

September 8, 2010 1:26:37 PM PDT
When bus transportation was discontinued at San Jose's Bagby Elementary School as a result of budget cuts, two women teamed up and organized parent-led walking groups to take their kids to school.

Christie Styer, whose daughters Hannah and Emily attend the school, was inspired to start the "walking school buses" program after reading an article on International Walk to School Day.

Styer told walking partner Dana Lancaster about implementing the idea as a daily activity at Bagby, and the two of them discussed it with school Principal Kathy Kimpel.

"I think it's great," Kimpel said. "We have a lot more people walking, a lot less cars. It's like a lifestyle change really."

The "Bagby Walk and Roll" program ensures kids reach school safely and reduces traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

Today, Styer's group of 20 students was joined on their 15-minute walk by Kimpel, Cambrian School District Superintendent Deborah Blow, as well as Mayor Chuck Reed, Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio, and police Chief Rob Davis.

Blow said nearly 140 kids at Bagby were affected when the school district discontinued all four of its buses this year.

"We've had to make tough decisions," Blow said. "Sometimes when you're presented with a challenge, you turn it into a positive. Students are walking more and our community is getting to know each other."

Reed urged children to remind their parents to be safe drivers when dropping them off in the mornings. He encouraged parents to be more aware in school zones and refrain from contributing to traffic congestion by committing violations such as double parking, speeding, or stopping in the middle of the street.


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