‘Burger King kids’ beat City Hall on buses

The “Burger King kids” have won their battle, but education advocates are still fighting a war over the Department of Education’s school bus restructuring plan.

On Tuesday night, Community Board 1 members thanked parents and local politicians for their hard work in getting bus service restored to two sets of east side students who attend P.S. 234. Many students who used the bus stops at Hanover Square and Southbridge Towers officially lost their bus service on Jan. 29, when the D.O.E. cut 116 bus routes in a much-maligned effort to save $12 million per year.

The students were cut out because of a technicality requiring the older kids (grades 3 through 6) to live more than a mile from their school in order to qualify for bus service. The Hanover Square children had service restored after proving that they did, in fact, meet the one mile requirement.

The children at Southbridge Towers, who catch the bus in front of a Burger King that is 0.9 miles from P.S. 234, got their bus back after the D.O.E. approved a hazard variance — an exception to the rules that takes into account the narrow sidewalks, busy streets and construction sites that the B.K. kids would have to traverse in order to walk to school.

Despite the victory, board members said Tuesday that they will continue to fight the bus restructuring. Parents want the D.O.E. to put the afternoon bus routes back on their original schedule. They also want assurances that technicalities such as the one at Southbridge will not jeopardize their children’s transportation in the future.

— Skye H. McFarlane