School starts with fewer buses

Jose Iglesias, left, walks with his son, Miguel, 10, a fifth-grader at Orchard Avenue Elementary School, after classes were dismissed Monday on the first day of school for Mesa County District 51 students.

Long strings of cars in school drop-off lanes are a common sight on the first day of class.

It may take a couple weeks for School District 51 to see the true impacts of cutting 16 bus routes in an effort to save $650,000 in the district’s budget. Routes were cut based on new boundaries that provide busing for middle and high school students who would have to walk longer than three miles to school or, for elementary students, two miles. Last year’s boundaries were a mile closer to schools.

District 51 spokeswoman Christy McGee said it will likely take a couple weeks from the first day of school Monday to see how many students who do not have a bus to ride end up walking, getting a ride from a parent, or sharing in a carpool.

“The anomaly part is inevitably a lot of people drive their kids to school on the first day, so every year we wait really until after Labor Day to see what busing numbers are like and how many people are utilizing it,” she said. “Through these first two weeks, we ask drivers in the community and parents to have patience and not be frustrated.”

The Grand Junction Police Department, which also is encouraging drivers to slow down for walkers and drivers getting in and out of school zones, handed out four tickets Monday to people who were speeding in school zones.

All of the tickets were issued in Nisley Elementary’s school zone, according to Police Department spokeswoman Kate Porras.

McGee said parking lots were busy Monday morning and afternoon, but there were no reports of “incidents” by the end of the school day in parking lots or with students walking or riding the bus to school.

A 10-year-old boy’s mother reported two hours after school let out Monday that her son did not walk home as expected from Chatfield Elementary, according to law enforcement scanner traffic.

Chatfield is one of six schools without any non-special needs busing this year. The boy was located soon after the call to 911 was made.

Another school without busing this year, Nisley, at 543 28 3/4 Road, switched its entrance with its exit in an effort to make picking up and dropping off students easier. The entrance is now off Texas Avenue and the exit is at 28 3/4 Road. The exit has been widened as well to allow vehicles to turn right out of one lane and left out of a second lane.

Orchard Avenue, another school without busing this year, did not make changes because the school had just two buses previously, McGee said.

Thunder Mountain Elementary still has some busing but made some changes to accommodate more parents picking up and dropping off students from within the new two-mile walking boundary.

Parents who live east of the school are asked to use the school’s parking lot for pickup, while parents who live west of the school should use the school’s bus loop. McGee said the school has arranged for buses to pick up students slightly before the end of the school day at 3:50 p.m. to accommodate the new situation.

“If there’s feedback on better ways parking lots can work, suggestions are welcome,” McGee said.

Feedback can be provided in the student transportation section under the “parents” tab on the district’s website,


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It’s a great thing I have awesome neighbors who are letting my child cut through their property. Otherwise my 9 year old would have to walk on the busy Broadway aka Hwy 340 to get to her school.  I would have rather seen the district office see cuts than the transportation and safety of our children be compromised.

Headline Declares: School starts with fewer buses but no incidents


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