TOPS parents plan to protest bus cuts by driving kids to Eastlake school on Friday

Parents of students who are slated to lose their bus service to Eastlake’s TOPS@Seward School in the fall of 2012 are being asked to drive their children to school on Friday to simulate possible traffic impacts if their service is cut.

The drive-to-school event would only be for the morning commute. Parents say arrivals would be between 7:45 and 8:30 a.m. Sheila Anderson, a TOPS parent, said in an e-mail that:

Safety is paramount so we have enlisted the Seattle Traffic Unit to document the effects of the simulation, and to ensure public safety if necessary. We have asked all parents to be extra mindful of parking rules and traffic rules. The Police will not direct traffic (since that won’t simulate typical conditions once bussing is cut) but they will be there to jump in if things get totally snarled.

The parents have invited school board members, school district personnel and members of the media to come to TOPS on Friday to see what traffic might be like if bus service is reduced. Parents don’t know how many may participate.

The Seattle School Board voted a year ago to discontinue bus service to the school for students who live outside the Washington Middle School transportation area after the 2011-2012 school year. TOPS draws students from a large part of the city and many arrive by bus. TOPS parents who value the school’s diversity fear that element will be lost if bus service is cut for those who live outside the Washington Middle School transportation area.

The school district said last year it would revisit the issue in 2010 but has yet to do so.

In a letter Anderson sent to the school board on behalf of the TOPS parents, she noted that data gathered by parents showed that 40-50 percent of students at the school would lose their bus transporation in 2012. She continued:

While board members have reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining TOPS all-city draw, many of our most vulnerable students live in the southeast part of the district and may not have access to alternative transportation and will need to transfer schools, thus disrupting their education and denying them access to one of the most successful schools in the district. 

Anderson’s letter says that TOPS parents appreciate the expense of the bus routes and they feel there are alternatives that wouldn’t increase district expenses.

The parents say that, if bus service is reduced, they fear the result could be “non-trivial impacts to the Eastlake community and the TOPS community as more families drive their kids to school.” They that they feel “that the questions around traffic impacts have not been given full consideration.”

The complete letter from the TOPS parents to the Seattle School Board is attached to this post.