The Virginia State Board of Education urged local school systems today to discourage students from driving to school by forbidding them to park on school grounds unless they can't walk home safely or use a school bus.
"We have to make every effort we can to conserve energy," Board President Allix B. James said in an interview after the resolution passed unamimously. "But transportation usually is furnished to all who need it, and students should use it."
In the Washington area only one Virginia school, Osbourne Senior High in Manassas, has imposed tough restrictions on students parking as a way to cut driving to school. Despite some opposition when the restrictions went into effect last September, Principal Victor Egidi said the rules have been generally accepted.
Egidi said stickers to park at school are granted to handicapped students and to those who must drive to work directly after school or senior whose classes end early, several hours before school buses run. The only other exception, Egidi said, is a one-day permit for students, who have to use a car to get to a doctor's appointment.
Last year about 200 of Osbourn's 800 students drove cars to school, Egidi said, the number of drivers now is down to about 75. Students can't ride the school bus, he said, unless they live at least nine-tenths of a mile away from school.
James said yesterday's resolution imposes no requirements on local districts. "But we want them to know that they have the full backing of the State Board if they try to stop students from taking cars to school," he explained.
The resolution also encourages local school districts to try to save fuel by consolidating nearby stops on school bus routes and establishing a clear policy requiring students and reasonable distance to their assigned schools."