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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Hillsborough transportation system gets an outside look - or two



The Hillsborough district's transportation department is under review, Chief Facilities Officer Chris Farkas told the School Board Tuesday.

That process began even before the accident on Sept. 17, when a bus from Bryant Elementary School went into a retention pond with 27 children aboard. The children all survived with only some minor injuries, but the incident attracted public attention to the long over-stressed bus system.

An official from the state Department of Education is taking a look at the way the district trains and instructs its drivers, Farkas said. That invitation came long before the accident, at the suggestion of general transportation manager Jim Beekman, Farkas said.

"These are issues that I've directed staff to fix and come up with solutions around," Superintendent Jeff Eakins said. He also wants to see improvement in the way transportation employees communicate with parents.

Since the accident, efforts have been expanded to include the Council of the Great City Schools.

After the bus crash, the district fired the brand-new driver, who was described by law enforcement of driving carelessly. The bus had nearly 300,000 miles, but the district did not find the bus to be at fault.

Nevertheless, the board was expected Tuesday to approve the purchase of 200 new buses, in addition to 100 new buses purchased in 2014.


[Last modified: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 5:32pm]


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