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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Janssen's plan affects busing, too



There are so many pieces to Pinellas Superintendent Julie Janssen’s student achievement/assignment plan – and such intense scrapping over a few of them – that some likely changes have been a bit overlooked. As the plan heads down the home stretch (the final vote will be Dec. 7; the final workshop discussion will be  Monday) it’s important to note it will affect transportation for some magnet and fundamental schools.

Our colleague Sharon Kennedy Wynne, who writes for the Whoa Momma blog, attempted to sum up the busing changes for inclusion in her recent story about the proposed new school choice application process (that’s also part of Janssen’s plan.) That piece got cut from the story because of lack of space, so the Gradebook brings it to you here:

* Beginning with the 2011-12 sixth-grade class, parents will have to provide transportation to Thurgood Marshall Middle School. Upper grades will continue to receive countywide arterial transportation until they graduate that school. Deputy superintendent Jim Madden said the issue of providing busing just to the gifted magnet sixth grade students at Thurgood “is still being discussed.”

* Beginning in 2011-12, ninth grade students in the fundamental programs at Osceola, Boca Ciega, and Dunedin high schools will get busing only within the zoned school area. The county is divided into large north, south and mid-county zones for arterial busing for these programs. Parents outside those zones must provide transportation, or they can take their students to the nearest bus stop within the school’s zone. Upper grade students at Osceola will continue to receive arterial transportation until they graduate.

* Students may apply to any IB or Honors option program, but they won’t have a bus if the program is outside of their application area. They can, however take their child to the nearest bus stop within the application area. Those in the north zone will have busing available if they are accepted by Palm Harbor University High School. Mid-county families can have busing if they go to Largo IB, and the south zone will have a bus for St. Petersburg High’s IB program.

At last week’s board workshop, members Janet Clark and Linda Lerner questioned the busing changes to fundamental schools, saying the lack of busing would shrink the pool of students who could attend. “Many lower socioeconomic families can’t provide transportation,” Lerner said. “We’re getting a two-tiered system here.”

A proposal to eliminate busing to Thurgood Marshall and Osceola came up in May, as one of many ideas to cut the budget. It didn't happen then, but sparked some worries among Thurgood Marshall parents.

[Last modified: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 12:04pm]


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