Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Busing of Dunedin students through busy intersection still not resolved

Michael Bessette says the Education Department has been flooded with appeals for the exception.

Michael Bessette says the Education Department has been flooded with appeals for the exception.

DUNEDIN — Two state agencies have weighed in, yet it's still anybody's guess whether busing will actually cease next school year for more than 50 San Jose Elementary students.

In late March, the Florida Department of Education told city and Pinellas school officials that the state Department of Transportation would need to study whether State Road 580 near the entrance to downtown is too dangerous for students to walk across.

In early April, state transportation officials cited high traffic volumes and the potential for crashes in its recommendation against a student crosswalk the city had reluctantly suggested for the intersection's east side.

Now, local officials find themselves back at square one.

That's because the state reimburses school districts the cost of busing students who live within a school's 2-mile walk zone only under certain circumstances.

The intersection where SR 580 meets Main Street, Skinner Boulevard and Bass Boulevard doesn't meet the state's thresholds for high traffic volume, high speed limit or other factors. But local officials argue that the oddly angled interchange's downhill grade and prevalence of red-light runners create a special circumstance.

Pinellas schools associate superintendent Michael Bessette says his office has bombarded the state Department of Education with phone calls and letters asking it to make an exception for San Jose Elementary.

"It's not a happy intersection. But us feeling it's not good doesn't necessarily declare it as hazardous," Bessette said. "Our goal is to try to get it (deemed) hazardous so we can be reimbursed for busing."

The issue stems from a late 2012 school district review, which discovered a mapping error that had used the wrong school entrance when measuring the distance from students' homes to the school. A recalculation determined the children actually live within San Jose's 2-mile walk zone, so they don't qualify for busing.

The announcement stoked fears among parents, city officials and school leaders about youngsters having to walk and battle rush-hour traffic on five-lane SR 580.

If the state rejects local officials' request, Bessette said Pinellas County School Board members would have to debate whether to absorb the cost of busing or approach Dunedin about sharing fees.

"We'll work very closely with the city to be as equitable as we can and ensure the safety of the students," Bessette said.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or ksummers@tampabay.com. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Busing of Dunedin students through busy intersection still not resolved 05/03/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 6:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida ethics board to hear Go Hillsborough complaint against Buckhorn, Hagan, Murman

    Blogs

    TAMPA — Two years after complaints accused Tampa and Hillsborough County elected leaders of steering a transportation contract to a politically connected firm, the state’s ethics police will finally hear the case.

    Florida Commission on Ethics will hear complaints next month against Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, as well as Commissioner Sandy Murman.
  2. Don't expect to see protests in college football any time soon

    College

    The whispers have segued to chatter. In time, it may evolve into rumblings, or even a groundswell.

    Following the national anthem, helicopters fly over Ohio Stadium in a missing-man formation in tribute to John Glenn before a game between Army and Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. (Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/TNS)
  3. AAA expects gas prices in Tampa Bay will continue to fall

    Autos

    Ticking slowly and steadily, regular gas prices have receded for the last 10 consecutive days. The average unleaded gas price in Florida is $2.67 this morning, a nickel cheaper than a week ago. In Tampa Bay, the current average unleaded gas has dropped 7 cents from a week ago to $2.62. The national average for regular …

    Gas prices for regular gas continue to decline. In Tampa Bay, the current average unleaded gas is down 7 cents from a week ago at $2.62 a gallon. [Times file photo]
  4. Restaurant review: Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights should focus on mom-and-pop pharmacy vibe

    Food & Dining

    By Laura Reiley

    Times Food Critic

    TAMPA

    Sometimes, the more time you have with a project, the more complicated it gets. I started hearing about Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights about 18 months ago. It was the vision of Ujwal Patel, a pharmacist;

    Mortar & Pestle opened in Seminole Heights in Tampa in August. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  5. Snap Judgment's Glynn Washington on growing up in a 'cult' and how to tell a good story

    Events

    Glynn Washington spent much of his last visit to Tampa preparing his soul for the impending apocalypse. He was assured it was coming any day.

    Glynn Washington, the creator and host of NPR's "Snap Judgment," will bring his live show to the Tampa Theatre on Sept. 29. 
Photo courtesy Snap Judgment