By Hannah Fry
7:16 PM PDT, August 28, 2013
The Newport-Mesa Unified School District reversed its decision to relocate a bus stop at Anaheim Avenue and Center Street in Costa Mesa's Westside after more than a dozen parents brought their concerns to the school board Tuesday night.
With school a week away, numerous parents and elementary-age students, many holding homemade poster board signs, urged the board not to move the stop.
Parents received a call from the district Aug. 16, informing them of the stop's move to Shalimar Drive and Pomona Avenue, said Jose Hernandez, a Costa Mesa parent.
The district did an assessment this summer of several bus routes, and the Anaheim Aveune-Center Street route was determined to be outside the Whittier Elementary School attendance zone, said district spokeswoman Laura Boss.
"It was a research-based decision," Boss said. "However, the district feels we need time to work with the families and do further research on what options we can offer for the 2014-2015 school year."
For years parents have depended on the Anaheim Avenue-Center Street stop as a way to get their children to and from day care.
The day care, Childs-pace Foundation, is steps from the current bus stop but slightly more than a half a mile walk from Shalimar Street and Pomona Avenue, according to parents at the meeting.
"There are approximately six street crossings, most with no crossing guards," Hernandez said. "We will not be comfortable at work knowing that not only are our children not safe, but are in actual danger."
The board was unaware of the change as of Tuesday night, and Superintendent Fred Navarro vowed to look into the issue.
Suzie Hernandez's 10-year-old son, Anthony, uses the bus stop every day during the school year because her job keeps her from picking him up from school.
"Moving that stop will have an impact on my peace of mind and employment," said Suzie Hernandez, who is not related to Jose Hernandez.
Trustee Katrina Foley said about 28 families use Childs-pace every school year.
"There wasn't a knowledge that there was that many kids affected," she said. "It didn't get shared for some reason."
Cost is most likely the reason the stop is being relocated, Foley said, adding that transportation is one of the district's largest expenditures.
Foley emphasized that the parent engagement with board members Tuesday night was a victory for the district.
"We rarely see engagement like that from our Westside parents," Foley said. "It was wonderful to see those parents come out and share their concerns with the board."