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School Busing

Ellsworth AFB, S.D. -- The Commander's Action Line is a forum for the Ellsworth community to make suggestions or voice concerns about Ellsworth directly to Col. Mark Weatherington, 28th Bomb Wing commander. 

QUESTION 

Sir,

My husband and I live in Prairie View Estates and have a 6 year old who attends Badger Clark Elementary and a 10 year old at Vandenberg. They both rode the bus last year so we were alarmed to hear that the base could no longer offer busing. I attended the privatization town hall meeting in May and walked away with the impression that the Balfour Beatty representatives and the base were working together to come up with a solution for the loss of the base buses. I was wondering if a solution has been reached. Is Balfour Beatty willing to offer a bus service like Centennial Estates? We would even be willing to pay for a service like that! If busing isn't an option, then we'd like to know soon so we can start making other arrangements. School is going to be here before we know it and there's a lot of anxious parents wondering what they're going to have to do to get their kids to and from school this year. Thank you for your time.



Col. Mark Weatherington
Col. Mark
Weatherington
  RESPONSE

Thanks for the question--and I hope you were able to come to the Aug. 2 Town Hall to get an answer.

We researched all possible means of continuing school bus service. Unfortunately, we have been unable to find any authority that allows the Air Force to spend money to transport dependent children to school within the 1.5-mile walking distance specified by DoD. Since we did not receive a budget appropriation to bus children to school this year, I cannot legally provide funding or Air Force resources to fill this gap. Balfour Beatty will be responsible for base housing starting around January 2013. Due to funding constraints, they do not plan to offer school bus service for residents either. We are working on contracted bus service for students in before and after school care at the Youth Center -- parents will be able to opt in for a fee.

I understand everyone's concern and we are working with our local partners to ensure a safe and efficient alternative to the bus service.