GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - Some Goose Creek parents were worried about how they'd get their elementary-aged children to school this year after realizing school bus service to their neighborhood was initially canceled.
Last year, they said they had six stops; this year, they were slotted to have zero.
School starts this Thursday for Berkeley County Schools.
Families who live in Sophia's Landing neighborhood noticed last week the bus routes posted Aug. 8 no longer listed stops for their neighborhood.
State law mandates that in most cases, districts do not have to provide bus service to students who live within a mile of their school. There are exceptions, including in some cases for children with disabilities.
The path Dominique Sandford's children would take to school if they walked from Sophia's Landing is 1.3 miles.
"I said this can't be right. I looked at the website and it was right," Sandford said.
She and five other parents in the area expressed concerns that part of the walk to school does not have sidewalks.
The kids would also walk through a section of the neighborhood under active construction, and there are at least two sharp corners they believe would be hard for kids to navigate without sidewalks.
They wish they'd had more notice about the change and said driving the kids to school every day doesn't work for working families.
"Especially being that we have early schedules," said one mother. "I have to be at work at 6:50."
Because Sophia's Landing is within a mile and a half of the school, bus transportation isn't required by state law.
"I found thirteen sex offenders within a mile of the school," said Lisa Smith.
This week, SLED listed nineteen sex offenders within a mile of the school.
"That's the most concerning part," said Smith.
After parents and Live 5's Carter Coyle contacted the Berkeley County School district about these concerns, spokesperson Katie Orvin provided the following statement:
"There will be one stop, as opposed to multiple, in Sophia Landing neighborhood in the Boulder Bluff attendance zone. Last year we had a couple of stops but because the subdivision is within 1.5 of BBE, we took another look at the area and decided to make one stop in a central location. The stop will be at the Todder Drive just before the intersection with Gianna. This gives the option of walking to the stop from both the back of the neighborhood and the front."
The bus routes were updated online last Friday.
A stop was added to Bus #1 in order to pick up children at Todder Drive and Gianna Lane.
"It's not exactly what we wanted," said Smith. "But one stop is better than no stop, so at this point we're going to go with that and see how it goes."
Representatives Sylleste Davis and Samuel Rivers, Jr. said they haven't had complaints like this before, but were willing to look into the mile and a half law.
Sen. Sean Bennett believes there does need to be a limit of some kind but said you have to consider the circumstances.
Sen. Ronnie Sabb said he's glad parents reached a compromise with the school district in this case but that he doesn't agree with "artificial numbers and lines."
He plans to take a closer look at this issue across the state.
S.C. Department of Education spokesperson Ryan Brown said in an email, "Hazardous route funding is provided to districts by the General Assembly and can be used for pupil transportation within 1.5 miles. Districts can also use local revenue."
"They will probably eventually have to add more stops because of the growing population in the community," said Sandford. "But I'm glad to show other parents to stand up and speak out if you have concerns."