A Doug's Life: Want a Solution to the School Busing Problem? Take Me Up On This Offer

Here we are again, the residents of Menifee, facing what appears to be a serious problem.

No, we're not talking about the traffic jams. Nor the debate over the impending arrival of a Wal-Mart store. Nope, not candidates for the November city election, either.

This is an important administrative action that could impact thousands of school children in the Menifee area: A drastic reduction in busing for the coming school year.

In short, the announcement earlier this week of a reduced bus schedule was really an admission by the Menifee Union School District Board that a huge number of students will no longer have bus service -- even from some remote locations that require long walks over hills and dirt roads on the way to school.

Only three of the district's nine elementary schools will be served by bus routes in the new academic year, which begins in mid-August. Even for those who remain eligible for busing, bus pass rates increased dramatically. A report of this announcement on Menifee 24/7 on Tuesday has generated nearly 50 comments on our Facebook page -- virtually all in strong opposition to the move.

I don't blame these people a bit. While I believe district officials when they say the cost of providing the bus service far exceeds available funding received for it, I agree with the masses that there must be something that can be done about this.

There is.

I'm not talking about marching in protest or writing one's elected officials, as some parents have suggested. Those are good ideas and are certainly worthy of consideration by any concerned parent. Attending future school board meetings to voice your opposition remains your right as well.

But because barring a miracle, nothing will change for this school year, there is only one reasonable solution. We must help each other get through this.

I propose that the residents of Menifee unite in an organized effort to provide transportation for those students who need it. We have stay at home moms who have an extra seat in the SUV and a few extra minutes each morning and afternoon. We have senior citizens looking for ways to stay involved in the community. There are residents who could make enough time to drop a neighbor's child off at school on the way to work. Churches seek service opportunities.

There even are part-time journalism professors and Menifee 24/7 writers who often work from home and have the capacity to help out.

That's right. You parents need help getting your kids to school? I'll be the first to volunteer. My car has four seats available almost every morning and afternoon. I am at your service.

In fact, I'll do more than that. I volunteer to coordinate an effort to identify those in need, find volunteer drivers, and provide transportation to as many students as possible.

I know what you're thinking: "Nice gesture, but he's crazy. He'll never find enough volunteers. Besides, I'm not letting my kid climb into a car with a stranger."

First, I assure you I am not crazy, although I have my moments. Second, I may not find enough volunteers, but I bet I can find a lot. Third, they won't be strangers by the time your children take their first ride to school.

Here's my offer:

If you have a need for transportation for your children to a Menifee Union School District school that does not provide bus service, write me at the following email address:


Put "rides needed" in the subject line. You don't have to give me your name, exact address or any personal information at this time. All I need is your email address in order to respond to you. Include the following in your email:

-- How many children need rides and which school(s) they attend
-- The approximate area in which you live (nearest major cross streets)
-- Exact time you need the students to be picked up each morning and any information about dropping them off after school
-- State whether you are willing to reimburse a volunteer driver for gas expenses
-- Add any additional details you believe are important

If you are willing to be a volunteer driver, write me at the same email address. Put "rides offered" in the subject line. Include the following in your email:

-- Type of vehicle you drive and its condition
-- The approximate area in which you live (nearest major cross streets)
-- How many passengers you can safely take
-- Any restrictions on days/times you are available
-- Indicate if you are willing to provide this volunteer service without asking for gas money
-- State whether you personally know any families for which you could provide this service
-- Add any additional details you believe are important

Once the responses come in, I will evaluate the responses and find the best matches of drivers and students. I am willing to do this by myself, but of course I would welcome volunteer assistance with this -- including city officials and members of law enforcement.

Rest assured, no parent would EVER be asked to send his or her child into a car with someone they have not met with more than once and whose background has not been checked out first. This process would constantly be monitored and adjustments made as needed. Contact information for all those involved would be verified in advance.

Of course, any parent has every right to reject a volunteer who is proposed as the driver for their children. Drivers won't be given any personal information about those in need -- including home address -- unless the parent first agrees to the meeting after correspondence through our common email address. Liability issues would be addressed and covered in the agreement between the parties involved.

Also, to make it clear, I am not making this offer as a representative of Menifee 24/7. This is strictly my personal proposal and has not been endorsed by Menifee 24/7, although I would welcome its support.

This is a huge project, you say? It might be. That depends on you. If only one parent emails me a request for help, my job is easy. Unfortunately, the rest of you lose out. What I'm counting on is the honesty and compassion of the people of Menifee. If that makes it a huge project because of the sheer numbers, I have faith there will be enough volunteers in the group who will help me with the organizational aspects.

So who's in? Parents, are you just going to complain about the lack of busing, or are you willing to explore an alternative in getting your kids to school? As for the rest of you, how many are willing to add the word service to the word community?

The ball is in your court. The email address is now active. I await your response.


  1. Great idea and job doug!!!

  2. What a great post! I love that instead I just then usual moaning and groaning, someone took he initiative to come up with a viable solution. Thank you!

  3. Great idea!! It's about time people stop complaining about what they can't have and start taking responsibility in there own hands! I wish I could help but I'm
    A caregiver to my elderly parents and I can't leave them alone! Good luck!!

  4. I think you are an Angel, or at least following God's directions!!

  5. This is a nice gesture but, it will do nothing but make a great news story. If it gets off of the ground, it will fall apart even quicker than it starts.

  6. I am not surpised that a fabulous guy like you would come up with a well thought-through positive plan to be part of a solution to a problem in our community! I hope people will break out of their daily pattern and see how they, too, can be part of a positive solution! I'm sure Doug will hear your suggestions and concerns to make this campaign ever better. This isn't the Doug Spoon Show, it is everyone's. Let's do it! Linda