Back in my day, they bused middle school kids to school if they lived more than a mile away. That made some sense because it was the suburbs and so the local transit options were super janky.
But busing middle school kids to school on yellow school buses doesn't make any sense here in the urban hellhole because our public transit service is pretty decent. And the service could be even better if the local transit agency could get a big infusion of ridership and fares from middle school students.
Just give the families who need it the same financial assistance deal we give the high schoolers and let the others decide whether transit, biking, or walking makes sense for them.