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Paul Rolly: Why some siblings can’t ride same school bus to same school

By paul rolly

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Jan 30 2014 12:36 pm • Last Updated Jan 30 2014 10:05 pm

Emily Taylor and some of her neighbors have discovered some of their kids are eligible to take the bus while their siblings cannot, even though they attend the same school.

Their neighborhood is 1.9 miles from Albion Middle School in Sandy. Canyons School District recently changed its grade configuration to make middle schools sixth through eighth grade.

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The Legislature’s policy is to reimburse districts for busing their students, but there are conditions. Sixth-graders must be at least 1.5 miles from their school to qualify for reimbursement, but seventh- and eighth-graders must live at least two miles away.

Several families in Taylor’s neighborhood have sixth-graders and seventh- and eighth-graders going to the school, so the younger kids hop on the bus and the older ones must go in cars — contributing to pollution while legislators who created such a predicament say they want to improve air quality.

Canyons spokeswoman Jennifer Toomer-Cook says the school board recognized that potential problem when it changed the grade configuration and adopted a policy that allows the older kids to get on the bus with their siblings if there is space available.

But Taylor says that policy isn’t always recognized by the district’s transportation department. She has seen the older kids denied access to the bus when seats were available. She says her complaints to the transportation department went nowhere.

Toomer-Cook says if the older kids are being arbitrarily denied access, she will make sure that gets remedied.

Rest of the story » Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart seems to be serious about her rumored attempt to unseat her fellow Republican, Gov. Gary Herbert, in 2016.

I mentioned in Wednesday’s column that when Lockhart met with reporters after her blistering attack on Herbert during her opening day speech to the House, a man in the back of the room was giving her hand signals to help coach her through the performance.

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That same man was seen at the back of the chamber coaching Lockhart, like a maestro conducting an orchestra, with hand signals during her speech to House members.

It turns out the man is Jonathan Wilcox, a professor at the University of Southern California and a respected and highly sought-after political consultant and speechwriter who has worked with former California Gov. Pete Wilson, Sen. Orrin Hatch and on the campaign to recall former California Gov. Gray Davis.

Lockhart, with nearly three years to go before the next gubernatorial election, is recruiting the A team.

Elephant in the room » While lawmakers consider more than a dozen bills to reduce pollution, they are continuing with their quest to move the Utah State Prison out of Draper and make that space available for developers to build residential and commercial hubs, causing even more cars and other polluters to occupy the smog-choked Salt Lake Valley.

Speak no evil » Christine B. Helfrich, of Salt Lake City, wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune on Jan. 1, complimenting the LDS Church for its public stand in 1981 against the proposed MX missile plan, which influenced the ultimate decision to scrap the project.

She then expressed dismay that the church was not speaking out for Medicaid expansion in Utah on the same grounds of community concern it had expressed on MX.

She wrote a similar letter to the editor to the Deseret News, but it didn’t run.

Instead, she got this response: "We apologize we cannot consider it for publication. As we are owned by the LDS Church, we avoid publishing letters in which, even by implication, the reader can be construed to be counseling or speaking for the church."

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Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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