Officials at the Rochester school district have asked the State Education Department for permission to change the district's transportation policy guidelines. Superintendent Bolgen Vargas says he wants to provide elementary students who live a half-mile or more from their school with bus transportation. The current policy limits transportation to students who live a mile-and-a-half or more from their school, because that's what the state will reimburse. The district would cover the cost of the additional busing. | Vargas says providing more busing is critical. Attendance, which is already a huge problem in city schools, becomes even worse during the winter months, he says. And most parents in working-poor households are not able to easily fill in when their children miss the bus, he says. | Providing more elementary students with transportation would also encourage many families to choose their neighborhood school, Vargas says. Some parents don't pick their neighborhood school because they don't want their children walking through sketchy neighborhoods. | More busing will also be needed to accommodate longer school days, Vargas says. | District officials say they are confident the state will allow them to adjust the policy, and they expect to hear a response to their request by mid June.