Clovis News

Walmart donation keeps school buses running

The Walmart Foundation is donating $8,500 for a community bus service for students living in Pinedale who attend Clovis West High School and Kastner Intermediate School.

The foundation's grant will allow students to continue riding school buses each day for the remainder of the school year.

It marks the first time the district has received funding from a private, nonschool-affiliated organization to help pay for a community bus service, said Kelly Avants, school district spokeswoman.

Without the funding, the students -- who live less than two miles from the two schools -- would be required to walk to and from school and cross busy Blackstone Avenue.

The district instituted a policy in 2003 that requires families of junior high and high school students living within two miles of their schools to pay for bus service. This year, the families raised about half of what was needed.

In previous years, the district has been able to get money from school-affiliated foundations to pay for community busing, but Avants said the foundations could not spare money for the program this year.

For the two schools, buses cost about $17,000 yearly, Avants said.

In a prepared statement, Mike Buchta, Walmart's North Fresno store manager, said the company and its foundation contributed to the program because it's "important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods."

Walmart Foundation, the retailer's corporate giving arm, provides funding, volunteers and in-kind donations to improve the lives of those living in communities with Walmart stores.

In 2010, Walmart and Walmart Foundation gave more than $467 million in cash and in-kind donations, an increase of $89 million over the previous year.