Parents of Oak Ridge students have been expressing concerns that the new 1.5-mile walk zones approved in June were based on a 1.5-mile air radius (“as the crow flies”) rather than actual walking distances.
On Wednesday, Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers announced that school officials were changing the calculation of the walk zone to actual walking distance for 1.5 miles “as the crow flies. The change is expected to cost $200,000.
Here’s the statement from Borchers:
I, along with the School Board, have been listening and reflecting on concerns about the new 1.5 mile parent responsibility zone. We have heard your concerns regarding measurement of the parent responsibility zones of 1.5 miles based on air radius miles (or as the crow flies) vs. actual walking distance.
As we close last yearâ€™s school budget, we have learned that there will be some unspent funds that will go back to our fund balance. By amending the current school budget to reflect using those unspent funds, the Oak Ridge Schools will be able to pay for the additional expense of changing the air radius or â€œas the crow fliesâ€ distance calculations to reflect actual walking distance. The approximate adjustment to make this change will cost an additional $200,000.
These funds may or not be there this time next year. That means that next yearâ€™s school budget, 2015-16, will be short by that amount in recurring funds. This amount will have to be replaced by adding funds for next yearâ€™s school budget. This action is a temporary fix for the 2014-15 school year budget, but I think it is an appropriate action to take in order to ensure that actual walking distances are approximately 1.5 miles.
The new parent responsibility zone for Willow Brook Elementary is being updated immediately. The new parent responsibility zones for the rest of the schools will be updated and loaded to the Oak Ridge Schoolsâ€™ website soon. You can expect a phone call from your school principal when the maps are ready.
Student safety is our highest priority. While we would have liked to have received funding to continue and maintain all of the services that have been provided in the Oak Ridge Schools in the past, as you know, that was not the case. As a school system, we will continue to work within our current budget to ensure your children receive the best education possible!
Parents protesting the expanded walk zones called it a small but positive step.