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Tue Jan 24, 2012, 02:58 PM

Death Valley students face loss of lifeline

Death Valley students face loss of lifeline
California has pulled funding for school transportation for the rest of this fiscal year and may eliminate it entirely next year. In Death Valley, where some students have a two-hour round trip, the cut is 'catastrophic.'

Reporting from Death Valley -- As the day's first light streaks pink across the sky, a yellow school bus appears on a lonely road leading to an Indian village in Death Valley National Park. The bus rumbles past desert mesquite and ocher mountains to pick up Marlee RedWolf Rave for one of the longest school bus rides in California.

It is 6:54 a.m. Marlee, a 14-year-old with raven hair and red nail polish, climbs aboard. She is one of nine students who spend more than two hours riding this bus 120 miles every school day to and from the Furnace Creek area to their school in Shoshone.

The long distance and light passenger load make this bus ride exorbitantly expensive. The Death Valley Unified School District spends about $3,500 a year for each of its 60 students on home-to-school transportation compared with about $26 per student in more densely populated districts, according to data compiled by the California School Boards Assn.

So when Gov. Jerry Brown announced that lagging state revenue would require eliminating all school transportation funding for the rest of this fiscal year, it hit this tiny school district harder than just about any other in California. Death Valley Supt. Jim Copeland calls the cut, which took effect Jan. 1, "catastrophic."

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-rural-schools-20120119,0,4691011.story

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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply Death Valley students face loss of lifeline (Original post)
The Straight Story Jan 2012 OP
TwilightGardener Jan 2012 #1
leftyohiolib Jan 2012 #2
TwilightGardener Jan 2012 #7
pstokely Jan 2012 #8
Xithras Jan 2012 #3
Snake Alchemist Jan 2012 #4
The Straight Story Jan 2012 #5
littlewolf Jan 2012 #5

Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 03:06 PM

1. Hell, my kids live in a middle class suburb and don't get bussed. (District has buses, but

the closest stop is three miles from my house). It's a shame, but it looks like these kids will have to learn online and maybe only go in to school once or twice a week. Hopefully the school can provide them with laptops, internet access, etc. School districts are starting to charge bus fare--pretty soon buses will be a thing of the past.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 04:21 PM

2. i cant believe people live in death valley

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 04:35 PM

7. Well, then there's that. Would like to visit, wouldn't live there if you paid me.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 06:50 AM

8. Many districts make you pay if you live too far or too close to the school

Even if the school if right across a busy street

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 04:27 PM

3. Unlikely.

There's no broadband in remote areas like that, and it's improbable that a small rural district can afford to provide anything beyond dialup. Text-only remote learning systems may work for high schoolers who can function at grade level, but they aren't a viable option for younger students or struggling students.

It's more likely that we'll see an explosion of rural charters in the coming years for these students. Something along the lines of a modern revival of the rural one or two room multi-grade schoolhouse. That, or they'll just get homeschooled.

My family just recently moved back into "town" after spending many years surrounded by nothing but farms and ranchettes. My home sat about six miles from the school, connected by narrow country roads without any shoulder and heavily traffiked by speeding farm trucks. Walking or riding a bike to school would be deadly. The entire area is heavily dependent on the morning school bus to get kids to class, and my children had classmates that lived 15+ miles further out from us in farm country. I have friends who grew up in the Sierra foothills who endured 50+ mile one-way bus rides every morning. Most of these kids, if I had to guess, will simply stop attending regular schools. They'll switch to homeschooling, charter schools, or private schools. Either way, these smaller, rural districts are about to lose a lot of students (and state money, as a consequence).

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 04:28 PM

4. What does one do for a living in Death Valley? nt

 

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Response to Snake Alchemist (Reply #4)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 04:31 PM

5. Rake sand (nt)

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 04:31 PM

5. a small school house with

satty hookup for remote classes ...

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