You've heard A$a's ads haven't you?
"Can you imagine putting our children on a bus for over three hours a day? I sure can't. But that's what's happening when we close local schools. My opponent helped create this problem. I want to fix it."
He refers to the infamous closure of Paron High School by the state Board of Education and the Bryant School Board. The school, with 111 students in grades 6-12, was too expensive to operate and didn’t offer required courses.
But has closure of the school required three-hour bus rides, roundtrip?
Not according to Bryant School Superintendent Richard Abernathy.
At our request, he compiled a list of former Paron students in grades 6-12 who now ride buses to school in Bryant. (The Paron elementary school remains open.)
Twenty-nine Paron students are now bused to Bryant on four different routes. The longest route, ridden by one student, is from 6:40 a.m. to 7:55 a.m., or one hour and 15 minutes one direction, for a total of 2.5 hours daily. Four students ride for 70 minutes each direction. Seven students ride 65 minutes. Two ride 63 minutes. Eleven ride 52 minutes. One rides 47 minutes. Three ride 42 minutes.
So on all, 15 of the 29 ride less than two hours total for the day. None rides “over three hours.”
Many Paron students transferred to closer districts and some may have arranged their own transportation. We can't tell you the number of kids in Arkansas who ride a couple of hours on the bus each day (though we once had a Little Rock junior high schooler who approached it) or the amount of money it would take to operate enough schools with adequate course offerings and sufficient buses to reduce the bus burden to a length acceptable to A$a.