Parents Express Safety Concerns after Student Struck

September 24, 2012 Updated Sep 25, 2012 at 11:37 AM EDT

By Allen Leight

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September 24, 2012 Updated Sep 25, 2012 at 11:37 AM EDT

CHEEKTOWAGA, NY (WKBW) - More kids are walking to school this year in the Maryvale School District, but not because of a change in bus policy.

The start time for the high school was pushed back to 8:30 a.m., aligning it with the middle school start time of 8:35 a.m. That meant middle and high school students could share buses, making for a more efficient morning commute.

"Before we were able to put children who were on some of our walker-routes onto the buses because our school start times, we had empty buses. So we tried to fill them up with kids from the walker zone. Now, unfortunately we don't have the ability to do that," said Maryvale Superintendent Deborah Ziolkowski.

Some parents believe the changes are to blame for the recent accident, and expressed a number of concerns to the board at Monday's public meeting.

"When there's snow, it's going to be so dangerous, I mean that's just going to be crazy. You have so many kids walking across 5 lanes of traffic on Union Road," said one parent.

"It's frightening. It's very, very frightening," Kathy Hawbaker told the school board, whose 11-year-old is forced to walk to school this year.

The accident last week, board officials say, is a tragedy that busing policy could not have prevented. Still, parents and board-memebers alike are hoping to see some changes that will make walking to school more safe.

"Hopefully we'll all work together, we'll continue to work with the Town, the Cheektowaga Police and we'll do whatever we can," said Ziolkowski.