Here's the problem. In my old district, some students are 4 miles from elementary school, 5-6 miles from middle school(6-8 Grade) and 8-10 miles from the high school.
Now high schools can tough it out, but there's no way a 5 year old can handle a 4 mile walk, and both parents oftentimes work these days.
Well, when I was five, I walked seven miles each way to school, uphill both ways, in the snow, no shoes...
Sorry, let me get serious. Yes, you're right. Younger kids can't handle walks that distance, so getting rid of buses is not a serious option in many cases. (Now, if they would go back to the one-room neighborhood schoolhouses...)