Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

A school bus makes the long trek from Death Valley High School in Shoshone to a Timbisha Shoshone village in the national park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Diannet Lujano, 15, takes a nap on the long bus ride home.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Students head for the bus at Death Valley High School.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Barb Taylor watches her son Zachary Lumpkin, 11, play with a yo-yo at their home in Furnace Creek before he begins the long ride to school in Shoshone.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Death Valley High School student Marlee RedWolf Rave, 14, in the backyard of her home in the national park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Debra Watterson would never consider putting her daughter Marlee Redwolf-Rave in a boarding school. The idea stirs ugly images of the well-documented beatings and other abuse inflicted on Native American children in some Christian boarding schools, Watterson said.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Marlee RedWolf Rave, left, gets off the bus after returning to the Timbisha Shoshone village. “School is the highlight of my life,” the 14-year-old says.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Sisters Faith, 11, left, and Cherish Corderman, 12, share a music player while riding a school bus to their home in Amargosa from Death Valley High School in Shoshone.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

A school bus carrying students from Death Valley High travels along California Highway 190.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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Death Valley tries to keep school buses rolling

As the day’s first light streaks pink across the sky, a yellow school bus appears on a lonely road leading to an Indian village in Death Valley National Park. The bus rumbles past desert mesquite and ocher mountains to pick up Marlee RedWolf Rave for one of the longest school bus rides in California.

It is 6:54 a.m. Marlee, a 14-year-old with raven hair and red nail polish, climbs aboard. She is one of nine students who spend more than two hours riding this bus 120 miles daily to and from school in Shoshone and the Furnace Creek area.

The long distance and light passenger load make this bus ride exorbitantly expensive. The Death Valley Unified School District spends about $1,700 for each of its 60 students on home-to-school transportation – compared with $13 per student in more densely populated districts, according to data compiled by the California School Boards Assn.

So when Gov. Jerry Brown announced that lagging state revenue would require eliminating all school transportation for the rest of the fiscal year, effective Jan. 1, it hit this tiny school district harder than about any other in California. Death Valley Supt. Jim Copeland calls the cut “catastrophic.”

Read full story: Death Valley students face loss of lifeline

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