It's only July and some students in Loudoun County are already dreading heading back to school. That's because - come September - a few thousand more of them will be walking instead of riding the bus. News4's Northern Virginia bureau reporter David Culver took parents' concerns to school officials.
Some students in Loudoun County are already dreading their return to school. Come September, 4,000 more of them will be walking instead of riding the bus.
It's an effort by the Loudoun County School Board to eliminate bus routes for students who live .8 miles or less from their school starting next school year.
Stone Bridge High School sophomore John Callahan will be one of those new walkers. He's already thinking about the added load.
"Well I have to carry my baseball stuff to school, so that might be annoying," Callahan said.
At times, Callahan will have his older brother to drive him, but even that worries his mom, Carolyn Callahan.
"I also think that's going to be a cluster over there with all these young drivers," Carolyn Callahan said. "So I'm actually getting the iPhones right now with the GPS on it, so when I'm at work I'll know if they got to school okay or if they're not at school."
There's also controversy surrounding Tuscarora High School. Many of the walkers there will have to trek more than a mile and have to cross four-lane roads like Battlefield Parkway. Once they reach the school entrance, they have to walk another third of a mile just to make it down the driveway to the front door.
"Safety is certainly an issue," school board member Bill Fox said.
He wants to make sure a student's path to school has plenty of crosswalks, lights, and proper sidewalks, which is not the case along every walking route.
"If not, we have to maybe put off some off the walk zone changes for another year," Fox said.
As for bus drivers, Fox says no layoffs are planned, but there's a chance they could see a cut in their hours.
"Probably the reality is we just won't be hiring as many bus drivers this year," Fox said. "Since we're increasing the number of walkers by 30 percent, I anticipate the savings would be significant, but it's just impossible to estimate at this point."
Carolyn Callahan is one of many Loudoun County parents and taxpayers who want to know where the extra money would go.
"Why would they make a decision like this if it wasn't a significant savings to the county?"