Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gridlock at New Tampa elementary as school bus cutbacks reach final phase

Kids bike and walk with parents to school outside Pride Elementary School. About 90 Pride students were affected by the decision to cut seven bus stops this year.


Kids bike and walk with parents to school outside Pride Elementary School. About 90 Pride students were affected by the decision to cut seven bus stops this year.

TAMPA — Cindy Kelly sits and sits and sits in traffic to drop off her son at Pride Elementary.

Cars backed up last week for more than a mile leading to the New Tampa school. It was gridlock from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. Parents who arrived early, when the school could not take responsibility for their children, were sent to the end of the line.

It's enough to test anyone's patience, said Kelly, a mother of two who works at a hospital. She's seen angry drivers blow through the school zone and cut through carloads of children.

"I hate to sound like a silly suburban mom in New Tampa complaining about the drop-off line," said Kelly, 43. "But I'm scared."

Pride's morning rush is not unique. School traffic is heavy this time of year, as parents linger to get their children settled in. Since 2007, there also have been countywide changes in school bus service, including a reduction in trips considered discretionary. Officials say the $9 million they saved on that, along with other cost-cutting measures, helped them weather state funding cuts without laying off teachers.

Speaking at a School Board workshop, superintendent MaryEllen Elia said she hopes more children will walk and bike to school, improving fitness.

But Kelly, who lives just inside the 2-mile radius where busing is generally not provided, thinks her 7-year-old son is too young to walk alone.

"I am into fitness," she said. "I'd love to walk. But I have to be at work at 8 a.m."

The district spread bus stops farther apart and phased out busing for students in the school choice program and within 2 miles of schools. It was a tough sell: In eastern Hillsborough County, parents flooded district phone lines and filled meeting halls to complain.

District spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said she did not know of any complaints about this year's changes in New Tampa, which mark the final phase of the plan. At Pride, seven stops were cut, affecting some 90 students, Cobbe said. She did not know how many were reassigned to new bus stops. And she doubts the reorganization caused the problems at Pride, which finds itself in a perfect storm of traffic issues.

First, the county is building a turn lane leading to the school, one of about 20 such projects. "We had hoped to have all of these completed before school began," said county spokesman Steve Valdez. "But with the heavy rains, we were delayed."

Kinnan Street, which leads to the school, is lined with gated neighborhoods, making it all but impossible to park along the way.

The new turn lane could be finished by Friday. But, Valdez said, "even when we finish this project, it will not solve the problem."

Kelly said principal Cindy Land and her staff seem to be doing all they can to supervise the mess and keep parents informed. Conditions seemed better as the week went on.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or

Gridlock at New Tampa elementary as school bus cutbacks reach final phase 08/29/11 [Last modified: Monday, August 29, 2011 11:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees


    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact


    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show


    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.