By Elizabeth Matthews
Fairview Heights, Ill (KSDK) -- Parents of about 150 students in Fairview Heights are not looking forward to next Monday's first day of school.
Their bus routes have been cut and they say their children will have to walk to school next to busy roads and through neighborhoods with sex offenders.
The Fairview Heights Grant School District is losing about $160,000 of Illinois state transportation funding, so they've cut their bus routes from eight to four.
"It puts a real hardship on parents who work who don't stay home," says parent Chris Jundt.
"My biggest concern is the safety of the children," says parent Jason Lane.
These are just two dads who are trying to figure out how their kids will get to and from school, now that their bus routes have been cut. All live within a mile and a half radius of the middle or elementary school.
Jundt and Lane say they are worried about child predators, walking during bad weather conditions and walking so close to traffic on the highway overpass, not to mention the distance.
"You never know it's just going to take one time for someone to get ran over or hit," says Lane.
"This isn't a decision that myself or the board wanted to do it," says Superintendent Matt Stines.
He says the district understands it's a hardship and the fault lies with budget cuts in the state.
So why can't they just take money from another department?
"When money is levied in taxes for say building fund, it has to go to building purposes, same for education and same for transportation," explains the superintendent.
Parents say the district knew about this for months, but instead of warning them they sprung it on them at fall registration this July.
"24th is when parents knew about it at registration, I didn't get the bus routes until the 23rd," says the superintendent. "It's where we are at and financially we don't have any other choice."
"20 years ago, it wasn't a big deal for me to walk to school, now it is a big deal for some safety factors that are out there," says Jundt.
NewsChannel 5 did some checking and there are approximately two dozen registered sex offenders within five miles of the school district's headquarters.
The school district is trying to help parents by keeping the school open longer for later pick-up, trying to put carpooling parents in touch with each other and working with St. Clair County to put up a guardrail on the highway overpass.