Hernando School Board set to vote on busing plan
BROOKSVILLE - After much debate and consternation, the Hernando County School Board is set to vote on a cost-neutral busing plan that will restore busing for some elementary students living within a 2-mile radius of their schools.
But the plan does come with other costs.
Many of the district's schools would see significant changes to their start and end times, with some schools beginning more than 90-minutes later. Some high schools would begin as early as 7:05 a.m.
The busing, which appears headed for approval at Tuesday's School Board meeting, would bring back busing for students who live between 1 and 2 miles from elementary schools, according to a plan developed by district transportation director Doug Compton. While busing would be restored for those elementary students, it would not come back for elementary-age students who attend the district's K-8 schools.
So-called courtesy busing ended three years ago in Hernando as a cost-saving measure. The state does not provide money for districts to bus students living within two miles of school, and most districts across Florida do not provide the service.
But few issues have sparked more controversy in recent years than the reduction of bus the service.
For the past several months, School Board members have considered numerous different proposals to restore busing for students in the two-mile radius.
Most plans were tossed out for the same reason: Money.
Strapped for cash and facing huge maintenance and capital costs, School Board members ultimately decided there wasn't enough money available to bring back busing for more students.
Compton says the proposal going before board members will cost roughly $600,000 to restore busing for the district's nine elementary schools. The expense will be canceled out by adjusting start and end times at district schools.
Under the proposal, all middle schools would begin at 9:15 a.m., which is 95 minutes later for each middle school except for West Hernando Middle. The schools would get out at 4:15 p.m. or 4:25 p.m.
The elementary schools would see the next biggest change, beginning at 8:35 a.m. instead of 9:15 a.m., a difference of 40 minutes.
Most high schools, which have the earliest start times already, would begin even earlier. Central High, Springstead High and Hernando High would all start at 7:05 a.m. - 10 minutes earlier than this year. Weeki Wachee High and Nature Coast Technical High would both start at 7:30 a.m., which is the same as this year.
School Board members have considered at total of 11 busing plans since the issue first was presented in December.
Danny Valentine can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes.