Kindergarten Parent Says 25 Minute Walk to School is Too Dangerous
But school officials insist route is safe
ANCHORAGE - Walking to and from school is part of growing up for some kids, but one Anchorage mom said the risks are too high to allow her 5-year-old son – Ricky – to walk by himself.
"I actually have the paperwork where there are 59 sex offenders between the school, and our house, and De Armoun and O’Malley,” said LauraAnn Van Tassel, whose son goes to Rabbit Creek Elementary.
LauraAnn Van Tassel is also worried about the bridge that her son uses to cross over the Seward Highway. She said it’s old and dangerous.
“I'm afraid in the winter time if it were to rain and freeze over... if he was to slip and fall and hit his head,” said LauraAnn Van Tassel.
In Anchorage, buses are provided for students who live at least 1.5 miles from their neighborhood school or for those who must cross an unsafe roadway, designated as “hazardous” by the Anchorage School District.
Ricky Van Tassel, a kindergartener, doesn't qualify to take the school bus from Rabbit Creek Elementary because the family lives within 1.5 miles of the school.
“The neighborhood for Rabbit Creek Elementary that's designated walking, that's on the west side of the New Seward Highway, is a very pleasant neighborhood. It has very wide streets and it's well lit,” said Marty Elkins, Director of Transportation Services for the district.
Elkins, and other officials have walked the paths and streets Ricky takes.
“Three of us recently reviewed the area and found it to be one of the nicest walking areas in the city.”
But Van Tassel said too much can go wrong during the 25-minute journey.
“If we were to run into moose or bear we wouldn't be able to get out of this area. We are pretty much trapped,” said Van Tassel, pointing to a fence that separates the path from the Seward Highway.
Van Tassel is waiting to hear from the school district as to whether Ricky can catch a bus from the Old Seward Highway.
"And if they think it's treacherous for him to be on the side of the highway there's Dare [Ave] where they could stop right before the apartment or Hamilton [Drive] where they could also make a stop,” Elkins said.
Van Tassel's concerns about Ricky’s route to school are being considered by the Anchorage School District's Hazardous Transportation Committee -- which does not take into account animal threats or criminal activity.
The ASD said parents who have those concerns are advised to organize walking groups and take turns walking kids to school.