Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough schools won't change bus routes next year

TAMPA — After botching the rollout of bus route changes this fall, Hillsborough school officials are calling off plans for more sweeping revisions next year.

That affects families around New Tampa, the university area, Brandon and Plant City — all slated for overhaul next year. Now the families should be spared the confusion the rest of the county experienced.

Superintendent MaryEllen Elia said Monday that the district will spend the next year making sure buses are running smoothly in the communities where routes already were revamped.

"We recognize that there were issues with the implementation of the changes," she said. "I don't want to add any additional areas to the stress for next year."

She pledged to have the school bus system, which transports 90,000 students daily, working as efficiently as possible before going into the remaining parts of the county to finish up the route changes.

School officials are still diagnosing what went wrong this fall. They produced a long list of shortcomings Monday morning during a School Board workshop on the topic.

Parents are only too familiar with many of the troubles cited.

Scores of families never received letters mailed over the summer detailing student bus route information. With schools similarly in the dark, parents flooded the phone lines at a transportation call center unequipped for such volume.

Ultimately, school officials increased staffing at the call center and parents could get through without long waits. But the officials heard outrage from the community. The district plans to improve communication efforts next year.

That's not to say that parents can expect to hear the answers they want. The district fielded many complaints about children who no longer qualify for free rides because they live too far from school. With money tight, that "courtesy busing'' is unlikely to come back soon. Other children will continue to walk farther to bus stops.

John Franklin, Hillsborough's general director of transportation, sees some positives amid the problems. He noted that Hills­borough has eliminated 3,000 bus stops. It is doing a better job of filling buses with students and getting them to school on time.

He said the department learned many lessons from this year's failures, including the need to have better internal systems to track students and revisions to bus routes.

The district has dispatched a team to identify every breakdown in this year's transportation program. A report and recommendations are expected in December.

Some remaining issues won't come as a surprise.

"If tomorrow was the first day of school, what would still be our biggest challenges?" board member Doretha Edgecomb asked.

"The communication piece," Franklin answered without hesitation. "Making sure that everyone is aware of what we're doing and why we're doing it."

Letitia Stein can be reached at lstein@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3400. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.

>>FAST FACTS

Affected areas

Hillsborough school officials are phasing in bus route changes in seven geographic areas in the district. To see which area your school is located in, visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/AreaDirectors.

Time line for

bus route changes:

2007-08: Pilot in Area 5 (southeast Hillsborough).

2008-09: Rollout in Areas 1, 2 and 4 (South and central Tampa and northwest Hillsborough).

2009-10: Rollout called off for Areas 3, 6 and 7 (New Tampa, the university area, northeast Hillsborough).

2010-11: Tentative final rollout for remaining three areas.

Hillsborough schools won't change bus routes next year 10/27/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 27, 2008 10:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. PolitiFact Florida: How would Florida fare in Graham-Cassidy health care bill?

    National

    Following a sharp rebuke by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., hit the airwaves to defend his bill that would undo much of the Affordable Care Act.

    Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
  2. What ever happened to the Zika epidemic?

    Health

    Remember Zika?

    The last time Gov. Rick Scott warned Floridians about the potential threat of the mosquito-borne virus was in July, when he urged residents to still be vigilant against bug bites and standing water. At the time, doctors and researchers were bracing for what was supposed to be another active summer …

    Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, responsible for transmitting Zika, sit in a petri dish at the Fiocruz Institute in Recife, Brazil. Cases of the virus are down dramatically this year in Florida, the result of awareness efforts, experts say. But the public, they add, should not let its guard down. [Associated Press]
  3. Pinellas licensing board needs cash. Will the county give it any?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The grand jury that said Pinellas County should not take over the troubled construction licensing board also said the county should bail out the agency before it goes broke in 2018.

    Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long isn't keen on the idea of the county loaning money to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board afloat. The county has no say over the independent agency, which could run out of funding in 2018. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. Is the Bundt cake back? How retro baked goods are becoming trendy again

    Cooking

    Once there were grunts and slumps, buckles and brown betties. Oh, and pandowdies and sonkers. In the olden days, people routinely made angel food cakes, tomato soup cakes and hummingbird cakes. These were not Duncan Hines mixes, but rather confections made from scratch following yellowed and stained recipes in your …

    Nothing Bundt Cakes in Tampa offers a variety of options, from tiny “bundtinis” and 10-inch cakes that serve 18 to 20 people. Core flavors include lemon, marble, red velvet and chocolate-chocolate chip, with featured flavors like confetti.
  5. Craig Butz, executive director of Pepin Academies and former professional hockey player, died in a crash with a boat Saturday. His daughter Teagan, 4, remained in critical condition Sunday afternoon. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   TIMES, 2013]