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More Spokane students will walk, potentially take public transit to school in new temporary plan

The Spokane Public School Board this week approved a slate of temporary changes to address a shortage of school bus drivers.

Middle and high school students who live within 1.5 miles of a school will need to walk. The district will also create school bus pick up hubs to reduce stops and driving times. The district is also looking into alternatives to school buses, such as vans, and a partnership with the Spokane Transit Authority, who would transport high school students.

School Board Member Nikki Lockwood says they’ve heard the frustration from families – many of which have experienced two-hour bus delays this year.

“Looking through the thought exchange, I just want to acknowledge this has been a difficult year for our families,” Lockwood said, “with you know the busing challenges and the employee shortages. I know it’s been tough, and I appreciate the committee working on these short-term strategies, so hopefully we can be more resilient in the future.”

School district staff say they still have details to work out for all the proposals, such as potential hazards students may be walking near with the expanded walking radius and changes to Spokane Transit Authority routes, with the goal of getting some of the changes in place by the start of the next school year this fall.

The Spokane Public School Board also voted to take legal action against e-cigarette maker Juul, during their Wednesday meeting.

The board approved a resolution to allow staff to work toward a lawsuit against the company. According to the resolution, a survey of Spokane Public School children showed a 50% increase in twelfth grade vaping between 2016 and 2018.

The school board’s decision came the same day the Washington Attorney General announced a consent decree against Juul. The company is required to pay the state about $22.5 million and set up a large-scale secret shopper program to keep the product out of the hands of minors.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.