Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bus stops a hot topic at town hall

BRANDON — Parents at a town hall meeting Monday night grilled Hillsborough County schools superintendent Mary Ellen Elia on everything from funding for the arts to school supplies to concerns about a new language arts curriculum.

But one theme prevailed: school bus stops.

Fifteen parents stood up during the open forum part of the meeting to speak in front of Elia and a crowd of about 200 parents, teachers and school administrators. Questions went on for about an hour.

Most of them took Elia to task on why they weren't told about bus stop changes before school started, why stops are on busy streets and why transportation to and from magnet schools isn't more efficient.

"You're risking our kids," said Pearl Chiarenza, whose son has to stand at a bus stop on busy Bell Shoals Road in Brandon. "I want to know what you're going to do to fix it."

In most cases, Elia referred parents to transportation manager John Franklin.

But Elia also told parents the district had investigated about 200 bus stops complaints and moved 80 stops.

Before the meeting, the Burns Middle School chamber orchestra played. Elia assured parents that she would try to protect funding for arts programs.

She also rattled off a list of achievements by area schools, including a county-best 96.4 percent graduation rate at Bloomingdale High, 64 National Merit finalists countywide and the Wimauma Elementary chess team's state championship.

Among the parents who spoke was Becky Goodman, a Valrico mom who asked Elia to explain why Goodman's kindergarten daughter was mistakenly put on the bus at school and dropped off at a bus stop without a parent to meet her.

"There's a crack (in the system)," Goodman said. "My 5-year-old daughter fell through it."

Jan Wesner can be reached at or 661-2439.

Bus stops a hot topic at town hall 09/11/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 11, 2008 4:32am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa man driving ATV killed in Gibsonton crash on U.S. 41

    Public Safety

    GIBSONTON — A 24-year-old man driving an all-terrain vehicle died Monday afternoon in a crash on U.S. 41, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  2. Questions about Russia chase Trump during first Israel visit


    JERUSALEM — President Donald Trump solemnly placed a note in the ancient stones of Jerusalem's Western Wall on Monday, sending a signal of solidarity to an ally he's pushing to work harder toward peace with the Palestinians. But his historic gesture- and his enthusiastic embrace of Israel's leader - were shadowed …

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after making joint statements, Monday in Jerusalem. [AP photo]
  3. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers, thousands of concealed weapons holders


    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people and information about thousands of concealed weapons holders were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson …

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]

  4. Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?


    Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.

    Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris laid out his prioriities for the power company ranging from improved customer service to the use of more large-scale solar farms to provide electricity. And he acknowledged a critical challenge: People are using less electricity these days. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  5. Editorial: Preserve wild Florida before it's too late


    The last dairy farm in Hillsborough County has milked its final cow, the pastures sold to developers who will build 1,000 new homes. The remnants of the last commercial citrus grove in Pinellas County, where the Sunshine State's famed industry began in the 19th century, were sold last year to make room for 136 homes. …

    As dairy farms and citrus groves disappear, much more needs to be done to avoid paving over Florida’s wild spaces.