When Arlington schools open in two weeks, a lot of kids who used to ride the bus to class will have to walk.
The school system is enforcing a transportation policy that has been on the books for years that requires kids who live close to schools to walk there.
Leanne Woolsey used to ride the bus to Glebe Elementary School. But this year, the petite fifth grader will have to walk about a mile to get there lugging a backpack as big as she is.
"On Tuesdays, I have saxophone class, so I have to carry it to school and carry it home, which is like carrying two times as much as this," Woolsey says.
School officials have removed 12 bus stops at five different schools that are within the walk zones to ease overcrowding on the buses.
"The disturbing thing is they didn't give us a lot of notice about this drastic change," Sandy Moore says.
School officials say the walking policy has been on the books for years, but this is the first year they are actively enforcing it.
Elementary students within a mile of the school must now walk. Middle and high school kids who live within a 1 1/2 miles of their schools have to hit the pavement too.
"It's going to be a lot harder and take a lot longer time to get there I guess," says Kyle McGarry.
It also means that 10th grader Kyle McGarry has to cross busy Lee Highway during rush hour to get to Yorktown High School.
"They told us that sidewalks are not a consideration on the safe routes they gave us," Dennis McGarry says. "So the kids will be walking in the street part of way, particularly on 26th Street."
Arlington parents are rallying together to fight the changes. Nearly 600 have already signed an online petition against them, including Lisa Stern, who has a unique issue with her two high schoolers.
"We received a letter like everyone else in Arlington that both our boys weren't eligible to ride the bus. And then two days later, we get a bus pass for one, and not for my other," says Stern.
On the school system website, Superintendent Patrick Murphy says parents can appeal. 100 parents have already done that.
"As many of you know, we have found a few errors in our route planning," Murphy says. "I want to assure you that we are working to correct any errors through the appeals process as quickly as possible."
Jody McGarry says it is not the way she wanted to start the new school year.
"We did file an appeal, but the Superintendent says it could take three weeks, and school will have already been started," says McGarry.
Parents plan to turn out in force for a summer chat with school officials on Thursday, August 30, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Gates of Ballston Community Room at 4108 N. 4th Street in Arlington.