WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4)– A petition drive has begun to eliminate school bus fees in Jefferson County. The drive was initiated, in part, by what happened to Jessica Ridgeway.
The 10-year-old was kidnapped and murdered on her way to Witt Elementary School in Westmintser on Oct. 5.
Last month, Jessica’s mother told CBS4 that she stopped taking the bus after the Jefferson County School District started charging for students to ride the bus.
“Last year they stopped the bus service, you now have to pay for it. So I asked, ‘Do you want to walk or ride the bus?’ She said, ‘No, everybody else is walking'” said Sarah Ridgeway in an interview with CBS4 last month.
Ridgeway said that she had driven Jessica to school in the past but this year she started walking with friends.
Nicole Baldizan, the petition drive organizer, said the petition drive has 1,100 signatures so far. It’s titled, “Stop the $150 Fee to Ride a Bus to School.”
“I felt if the children had safe transportation to school the incident in Westminster may never have happened,” said Baldizan.
Jessica’s family has given their blessing to the petition drive to eliminate the school bus fees.
“I have daughters around her age. I put myself in the family’s shoes. There’s no way to imagine how they felt. I doubt it would ever go away,” said Baldizan.
Some 2,000 fewer students ride the bus in the Jefferson County School District now compared to before the fee was put in place. The district said they will compromise with families that cannot afford the fee.
“The district does work on a payment plan. We are willing to work with any community member on that, we’ve done that numerous times,” said JeffCo Schools Transportation spokeswoman Vicki Burnett.
In Tuesday’s election, voters approved ballot initiatives that will designate more money for Jefferson County Schools. There is no guarantee the school bus fees will be eliminated even with the additional funds.
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