Zoning rules leave Creswick bus students stranded halfway home

Dozens of Creswick students are not dropped at home by their school bus but left on an isolated section of highway at the top of Springmount, due to Department of Education zoning rules. 

Stranded: Jacinta Bourke and her son Leo at the Springmount bus stop where Creswick students are dropped off. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Stranded: Jacinta Bourke and her son Leo at the Springmount bus stop where Creswick students are dropped off. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

The students, who travel daily to Daylesford Secondary College from Creswick, are dropped at the intersection of the Midland Highway and Sawmill Road, because their town is not “zoned” for Daylesford and the bus is not allowed to take them any further.

Creswick, which is 15 kilometres form Ballarat and 25 kilometres from Daylesford, is zoned to the Wendouree Secondary College catchment.

Creswick residents Kerry and Jacinta Bourke said their eldest son Leo was one of about 30 children dropped at the stop each afternoon.

Mr Bourke described the situation as “impractical and dangerous”.

“The kids cannot walk home down a winding section of road, which has no footpath and is an arterial road,” Mr Bourke said

“Parents must be available to pick up their children. There is no other option.”

Daylesford Secondary College principal Graeme Holmes said Creswick kids were not entitled to free bus travel to Daylesford, as their town was zoned to closer schools in Ballarat.

But he said the college was in the process of putting in an application for Creswick to become a dual catchment zone, eligible for both Daylesford and Ballarat, after requests from a number of parents.

Mr Holmes said he believed it was important for families to have choice.

“Creswick’s closer to Ballarat but there are people from Creswick who choose to come here,” Mr Holmes said.

“They do have to travel outside of Creswick to travel on our bus services.

“We’re looking at what arrangements can be made for Creswick to become a shared catchment.”

Ms Bourke said she felt more aligned to Daylesford due to family ties in the area, but had no affiliation to Wendouree.

“By the time they get to year 11 and 12 they have to go to Barkly on the other side of town anyway,” she said.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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