Walking school bus programs reduce traffic danger and transportation costs

030614-walking-school-busTOPEKA – Safe Kids Kansas and PedNet have teamed up to develop Walking school bus programs at 15 Kansas elementary schools. The project is funded by a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

A walking school bus is a program in which trained volunteers walk children to school. The children are supervised and the routes predetermined for safety to eliminate two main concerns with children walking to school: traffic danger and crime. The children register for the walking school bus and the program becomes an official source of transportation for the children, all the while improving their health through exercise. In addition, it can reduce transportation costs for the school district.

The project will establish programs across the state by identifying, funding and training 15 schools. The funding allows a school to pay a stipend to a local walking school bus coordinator to lead the project, as well as funding for printing and walking incentives. In total, each school will receive approximately $10,000 worth of funding and training.

In 2011, Safe Kids Kansas and PedNet conducted a successful pilot of the project in three Kansas elementary schools. One school, Hillsboro Elementary, was able to eliminate one of their bus routes due to the success of the walking school bus program, saving thousands of tax dollars per year.

“The walking school bus program has been very successful in our community,” said Hillsboro Elementary School Principal Evan Yoder. “The daily walks have lowered traffic congestion at our school, decreased negative behavior in the classroom and allowed us to decrease our motorized busing routes.”

To be considered for the project, schools must participate in one of a series of webinars in late March. These webinars are open to any educator and interested parents. After the webinars, interested schools will submit a grant application by the deadline of March 27. For information on the date and time of the informational webinar offerings, contact Robert Johnson at [email protected] and 573-289-6479.

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