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East Valley parents protest DSUSD high school bus cuts

LA QUINTA, Calif. -

Parents and students crowded the Desert Sands Unified School District at Tuesday's board meeting in La Quinta, many of them asking for a high school bus line to make it's way back into the Indio Hills area.

"It shouldn't be something we should be asking for," said Liliana Murillo, of Indio Hills.

Murillo warns the nearest high school is 15-20 miles away from her low-income neighborhood.

"We don't have pavement, no sidewalks, bike riding is not even an option," she said.

"It's a huge issue. It's too far for students to walk or bicycle and with no SunBus, there really is no other option for the children who live in Indio Hills," said Estelle Dahl, secretary of the Indio Hills community council.

Many families rely on carpools or early morning drop-offs.

"I drop them off at 6:50 a.m. They go into class at 8:30 a.m. So there's no supervision at that time," said Murillo.

The Desert Sands district discontinued all high school busing two years ago because of budget cuts. It only continued the bus service from the Indio Hills area to Shadow Hills High School when it first opened. This year, that's not the case since it became a fully opened four-year high school.

"To reinstate the bussing in that area would be a $30,000 a year cost," said DSUSD Vice Superintendent Sherry Johnstone.

It's a cost the district says it can't afford even with the help of Prop 30 funds.

"It's important we prioritize money into kids in the classroom," said Johnstone.

"Equal access in some measure is not what should be cut. If (students) can't get there, then what's the point?" said Dahl.

Parents put together a petition with more than 120 signatures, which they presented to the school board.

Some said there is rumors that middle school busing would be the next to go, but the district assures that's not true.

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