Parents petition district for Peninsula pickups

Long walks uphill to school are usually the fodder of “When I was your age” stories, but for one group of San Mateo County high school students, morning and afternoon foot travel may amount to more than five miles round-trip.

Responding to budget cuts last year, the San Mateo Union High School District cut one of the buses that serve Peninsula High School, ruling that students who live within five miles of the school — located at 300 Piedmont Ave. — would not need transportation.

But two parents of Peninsula High School students, Leah Bennett and Laura Alvarenga, disagree. The two have created a petition asking for increased busing, and said that many students are able to get to school in the morning, but getting to their homes or after-school jobs in the afternoon is problematic. Their petition is going before the San Mateo Union High School District at tonight’s meeting.

Students who live in Millbrae or San Bruno, and attend the district’s continuation school, the parents say, are being left without transportation to school. The SamTrans 141-line bus that serves their neighborhoods does not run early enough to pick up kids when school lets out at 1:20 p.m.

“Whoever made the decision to take away bus service to Peninsula High didn’t take into account where the school was,” said Bennett, mother of a Peninsulasophomore, who described the walk up the hill as brutal. “No one in their right mind would ever walk that distance to a job, and yet we expect kids, some with babies in strollers, to walk that hill.”

“We have all these students who live in Millbrae and San Bruno up on top of the hill with no transportation. The nearest transportation is on El Camino Real, which is two miles away,” Alvarenga said. “We are not asking for corner-to-corner transportation, we just want the bus to get the kids to the nearest stop for public transportation.”

District Trustee Marcia Cohn-Lyle said that although she generally supports the five-mile-radius rule, in the case of Peninsula High School, free transportation is an asset many of the students need.

“I’m leaning toward supporting them, but we’ll have to see what the other trustees say, and what the costs are,” she said.

The petition will be discussed at the Board of Trustees meeting tonight at 7 p.m. in the San Mateo District Office, Conference Room A, 650 North Delaware St.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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