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Fayetteville Students Wary of Walk to School

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FAYETTEVILLE — The old story about having to walk miles to and from school may become a reality for some Fayetteville students. An old law may erase certain school bus routes.

For several years, children who live behind Douglas Byrd Middle School have taken the bus to school, but this year riding the bus is no longer an option for them.

"I've been riding the bus for the past two years," said student Lisa Mays.

Mays, 13, and about 80 other students in the neighborhood are used to taking the bus, but this year they will be walking to Douglas Byrd Middle School about a mile from their homes. There is a shortcut through some nearby woods, but most kids say they are afraid to take it.

"Half the fights at our school, a lot of people wait back there for them a lot of times its really dangerous," said Mays.

Parents were just notified of the transportation change Monday, and many say they are upset over the short notice.

"Now I have to ask my supervisor to make amends so I can take my daughter and pick her up," said mother Billie Rodriguez.

Under state law, a school district has the option of busing students who live within a mile and a half of the school, or not.

Cumberland County school officials say they pulled the buses in question because they were needed in other areas. They say this was a logical move because other children who live near the school have been walking all along.

"It's hard to explain to mom and dad on the other side 'why does my child have to walk?' and children actually closer get to ride the school bus," Associate Director of Transportation Philip Mullen said.

With no sidewalks in the area, parents can't justify the school district's decision. They worry about speeding cars on hilly side roads.

"During school times, they seem to slow down but it only takes one person not to be paying attention," parent Dan Mays said.

Transportation officials say three weeks notice was as much notice as they could give. They were waiting until school rosters became finalized before making a final decision.

To anyone wondering how they make such decisions, school officials say there is no set standard. They look at safety factors in each individual case.