Monday kicks off the school year in Cleveland, but it's also kicks off what administrators are calling “Parent Responsibility Zones.”

It only applies to high school students this year, specifically those who live within a mile and a half from Cleveland High School. It means parents will be responsible for getting their students to and from school, whether that means driving or walking.

It's not a decision that was made overnight, but after building a new school, it's one school officials agreed on to help with zoning, bus routes and budgeting.

“If we were going to try to now with our new school zones and everything else to transport everyone it looks like it would take two additional buses," Dr. Russell Dyer, Director of Schools said. “When you look at two buses, plus staff for the buses and things like that you're easily talking [roughly] $200,000 to $225,000.”

It’s a chunk of money Dr. Dyer says the state will not provide.

“There's actually a law that dictates that if a student lives less than a mile and a half from school then there's no state funding that goes toward that child being picked up by a school bus,” said Dr. Dyer.

It's why Parent Responsibility Zones are now a reality in Cleveland. The zones are Paul Huff Parkway on the north, Interstate 75 on the west, North Ocoee Street on the east, and 25th Street on the south.

Dr. Dyer says parents were notified via email two weeks ago.
           
“A lot of them [high school students] drive already or they ride with a sibling or they may ride a bike or already walk to school just because that's what they do,” Dr. Dyer said.
           
But there are exceptions.

“Special education is an example of that. We pick those students up regardless of where they live and also we take safety factors in. We don't want people crossing extremely busy traffic zones or you can't walk across the interstate or things like that so we take that into consideration,” Dr. Dyer said.

Eventually more schools will be phased into Parent Responsibility Zones, but school officials say they want to make sure the city's sidewalks and overall infrastructure is ready for that.

If you have a child in Cleveland City Schools and need direction on how to navigate this change, you can contact the transportation department at 423-472-9576 or click here to send an email.