Yielding to pressure from angry parents and politicians, the Baltimore school board last night backed off of plans to eliminate school bus service at seven schools.
The bus routes had been targeted for elimination by school administrators who said that many of them were no longer necessary. Originally, the school system targeted 47 routes at 17 schools for elimination.
But that plan, which could have saved the system $600,000, was trimmed after parents denounced it at two public hearings.
"This decision involves a realization that the school system is facing rezoning in the very near future," said Redmond C. S. Finney, the school board member who made the motion to maintain all the current bus routes.
The school board is expected to begin rezoning in the fall, drawing new boundaries for the areas from which schools draw students. New boundaries directly affect student transportation.
As many as 3,400 non-disabled students could have been affected by the changes originally considered by the school system. Currently, the city provides private bus service for about 8,000 students who are picked up near their homes.
School officials say the "non-mandated" bus service is provided for a variety of reasons, including desegregation, safety and to relieve overcrowding.
School officials had said the rationale that led to many of the current routes no longer exists. But they retreated from that argument in the face of determined opposition from parents and threats from City Council members, who promised to make bus service an issue as they deliberate the municipal budget that goes into effect July 1.
The board's decision means that bus service will be retained at Gwynns Falls, Dickey Hill, Curtis Bay, Yorkwood, Holabird and ,, Medfield Heights elementary schools and Fallstaff Middle School.
There also will be no cuts in routes for Cross Country and Mount Washington elementaries.