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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

A ride home for IB students in Hillsborough

Following up on a situation we reported in recent weeks: The Hillsborough County school district is working with families who are in a lurch because of transportation changes in two high school International Baccalaureate programs.

I.B. students at Robinson and Strawberry Crest High Schools used to get picked up at hubs in the early morning, then dropped off near their homes after school. It was a compromise of sorts, as the normal magnet transportation set-up involves long bus rides and a change of buses at a transfer station.

But the school district is short 150 bus drivers, and parents were told the afternoon service will not be available in the 2013-2014 school year.

Instead, they were told, students will be taken to schools in their communities -- "hubs," they are called -- where tutors will be available to help them with their homework until their parents can pick them up.

Most parents were satisfied, officials said.

But not Pamela Ward, a single mother who works three jobs. Ward stated her position emphatically at the May 7 school board meeting. These students, she said, are the most ambitious in the district, and should not be penalized because their parents work long hours.

Early this week transportation manager John Franklin said he is working with Ward and the other families who complained. Ward's daughter will ride magnet buses, as does Ward's other child, who is in a magnet middle school.

"I'm very thankful that he's allowing my daughter to utilize the magnet transportation system," Ward said. "I'm fine with that because I think it's fair."

A bigger issue, she said, is the driver shortage, which appears to be aggravated by low pay. As we reported earlier, the district has a bonus program that rewards drivers for successfully recruiting other drivers. But it has yet to pay off, with most of the recruits unable to meet the stringent hiring requirements.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 1:36pm]


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