Riverview hits the road

Camille Baker, editor-in-chief

Rubbing his eyes, Torrance Harris stares out his bedroom window, seeing nothing but a pitch black winter sky. He turns to look toward the alarm clock blasting in his ear. It is 5:45 a.m. He arises to go through his usual morning routine. Shoveling breakfast in his mouth as he gathers his binders, Torrance rushes outside to begin his one-mile walk from his home in Bellefontaine Neighbors in order to get to the bus stop on time. One mile later, he arrives, seeing other students bundled in their coats, just as the bus pulls up. It is now 6:30 a.m. and while other KHS students are sound asleep, Torrance embarks on his daily 45-minute bus ride to Kirkwood.

Torrance, senior, said he adjusted to this routine after he applied and was randomly selected by the Cooperating School District (CSD) to transfer from Riverview Gardens School District to KSD in eighth grade. However, Riverview Gardens acquired provisional accreditation in Jan. 2017, meaning they would no longer commit to financially supporting the busing program. Because of these changes, Torrance, along with 36 other Riverview-Kirkwood students, is no longer able to ride the bus to KHS.

“[The busing cut] is a really sad situation to [witness as] a parent,” Lawanda Harris, Torrance’s mom, said. “You have one school where kids can’t even take books home to be transitioned to another school where they’re bringing iPads home. In one district you’re not even trusted to bring a schoolbook home yet still get a decent education.”

After receiving provisional accreditation, Dr. Scott Spurgeon, superintendent of Riverview Gardens, made the decision to end the transportation program, though the school district is considered less than 35 percent proficient, compared to KSD’s 90 percent proficiency, according to Mike Wade, assistant principal. KSD board members, coordinators and principals met to discuss the pros and cons of continuing the busing program, though the cost for KHS to provide transportation to and from Riverview for one school year would reach $60,000. Additionally, contributing money to pay for activity buses after school would increase the cost to $180,000: a price that KHS cannot afford to pay, according to Wade.

“It’s so cost-prohibited,” Wade said of the busing situation. “Are you really helping if you only [provide transportation] for one year? It’s a bigger societal issue than just [whether] we can plug one little leak in our dike with money. If you commit to it for a year, you commit to it for every year.”

Torrance and his mom said they will have to make sacrifices in order to get him and his sister, an eighth-grader at NKMS, to KSD every morning. Instead of taking the bus, Lawanda will drive her children 45 minutes to Kirkwood before she goes to work. However, Torrance’s family said they are lucky to be able to come back to KHS.

“[Going back to Riverview] is not even an option for my family,” Lawanda said. “I have seen how bad it is. When Torrance was in seventh grade, I went to visit him one day at school and there was more yelling and hollering in the hallways that it seemed more like a bootcamp than school. I made the decision right there that he could not [stay] in that district.”

Along with changes in his daily routine, Torrance is faced with figuring out how to get to and from both wrestling and track practice. He said despite the altering of his schedule, he would not give up attending KHS.

“It’s definitely time-consuming and stressful,” Torrance said. “When practice ends at 5:30 [p.m.], I take the 5:45 [p.m.] bus home, and I don’t get home until 7 [p.m.]. [But] I have spent my teenage life at Kirkwood. I already have so many friends [at KHS who] I already barely get to see out of school. I fell in love with wrestling my freshman and sophomore year [at KHS]. At Riverview, they don’t even have a wrestling team. I found a love in Kirkwood that Riverview doesn’t even have to offer.”