Parents want the school district to hear their concerns before taking drastic steps.By Jessica Guay

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Because of the bus driver shortage, more Pittsburgh Public Schools students will have to walk to school.

Parents are in a bind after being thrown another curveball ahead of the upcoming school year. PPS added more students to its student walker list, which removed the need for nearly two dozen buses.

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Concerned mothers are speaking out after they received letters that said their kids won’t be able to ride a bus to school as they have in the past. The letter included tips on how to prepare their child to walk to and from school.

“I received a letter from the transportation that my kids will no longer receive a school bus and will have to walk,” said LaTavia Steel, mother of five PPS students.

Nearly 800 students at different schools will change from bus riders to walkers, including Steele’s kids who are going into kindergarten, first, and second grades at Arlington School in Mount Oliver. She also has two children who attend Carrick High School.

“I’m a mother, a single mother of six kids at two different schools. I work two jobs. I can’t get them to and from school every day,” said Steele.

Margaret Knight received the same letter. Her child is going into first grade at Arlington School.

“My 6-year-old is not going to walk here, even with a group of people. He’s small, he’s young, I’m not doing that,” said Knight.

Knight said her son would have to walk on some major streets.

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“I don’t think my first-grader should have to go over Brownsville Road. … I feel like they’re asking a kid to get snatched,” Knight said.

The two moms want the school district to hear their concerns before they take drastic steps.

“We like this school. We want to stay, but now I’m just like thinking about switching him out because I can’t have the pressure on me or my children,” said Knight.

“Especially with the stuff that’s going on in the city, no, no and I have no one to bring them. So guess we’ll either provide transportation or I’m pulling them out of Pittsburgh Public School district,” said Steele.

The school board recently approved these transportation modifications on July 28.

“Students are eligible for transportation based on the distance between their home and their assigned school. Transportation eligibility is measured from the nearest point where a private way or private road connects the residence of the student to the nearest point where a public road touches the school grounds. Students in grades K-8 are eligible for transportation if they live more than 1.5 miles from school, and students s in grades 9-12 are eligible for transportation if they live more than 2 miles from school.

“To eliminate the need for 22 yellow buses, the District increased walk zones to align with state and Board policy, moving currently ineligible students from transportation to walkers. The move impacts nearly 800 students. Families have been notified if their students were moved to walker status.” said Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Ebony Pugh.

Last week, the district delayed the start of the 2021-22 school year to Sept. 8.

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Pittsburgh Public Schools will hold a community talkback on Monday. The superintendent will discuss transportation issues and the back-to-school plan. The virtual meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. on the district’s website and Facebook page.