Bel Aire parents consider moving over school concerns

BEL AIRE, Kan. According to Bel Aire's mayor, earlier bus schedules are driving some parents to move out of the city.

Earlier school start times for The Wichita school district mean some kids in Bel Aire have to catch the bus an hour before class even starts.

If parents chose to have their kids go to a closer school, they would not need to catch the bus as early.

In addition to that, some parents have an issue with the lack of neighborhood school options.

Original plans called for a K-8 school in Bel Aire and a comprehensive high school, but because of budget cuts, that didn’t happen.

Sarah and Travis January said their kids stopped taking the bus years ago because it took off too early, and earlier start times this year make the problem even worse.

"Sometimes we struggle just getting up at 7:30 to get ready for school, so we’ll see how we do this year with the 10 minutes earlier, but I do think getting kids on the bus that early is absolutely ridiculous," said Sarah.

Bel Aire Mayor David Austin said he agrees it’s an issue.

"When I go to work early, I'll see kids out waiting for a bus at six o’clock in the morning, which to me, that’s crazy," said Austin. "Sometimes I’m not even up at 6 a.m."

He said parents have even left the area because of this.

"The bus was just way too early for them, so they unfortunately made the difficult decision to go elsewhere," said Austin.

"The bus drop off and pick up was going to be about 30 to 45 minutes before school actually started," said Sarah.

Among other education issues parents have in Bel Aire is that the area has magnet schools and no true neighborhood schools.

"Home of the fill in the blank for their mascot... they’re proud of their school, and they show off their school," said Austin. "Bel Aire, we don’t have that. We have a lot of other things, but if people want to have a community school, I imagine that would be for a sense of pride."

Right now students who attend Northeast Magnet and want to play sports have to be bused to their base school.

"As far as for elementary I’m fine with it, but as they get older it would be nice to have something in the neighborhood as far as a community school," said Travis.

You can find a full list of start and end times for schools in USD 259here.