Sunday, January 21, 2018
Education

Hernando School Board asks for more busing options

BROOKSVILLE — Doug Compton made it through only a couple of his proposed busing options at Tuesday afternoon's Hernando County School Board workshop before board members hit the brakes.

The choices weren't exactly what they had in mind.

Board members directed Compton, the district's transportation director, back to the drawing board and told him to return with a new proposal that would restore busing for some students living within a 2-mile radius of their schools — but not all of them. Four proposals brought to the board Tuesday would restore busing for all students living within 2 miles, except two of those proposals would not bring back busing for magnet schools. One of the most frequent complaints to School Board members in recent years has been the lack of busing within 2 miles.

Two other proposals would not have restored busing for any of the students within 2 miles.

School Board member Matt Foreman took issue with the plans that restored busing for all students, regardless of distance. "If you can see the school, you can still get a bus," he said. "That sounds foolish, doesn't it?" Foreman said he didn't believe transporting students who live that close to a school would be the "best use of our money or the kids' time." He also said he doubted the district could come up with enough money to bus all students. His suggestion: a partial return of busing.

"I think there's probably a hybrid that probably makes the best sense," he said.

Board members generally indicated it was most important to them to restore busing for elementary students. "I think that priority No. 1 is our elementary kids," said board Chairman Gus Guadagnino. "They're in the rain; they're walking on roads that don't have sidewalks."

Once the district has looked at transportation for those students, he said, others could be considered.

"If we find more money, let's move to the next notch," Guadagnino said.

The board asked Compton and the transportation staff to bring back a proposal that would restore busing for elementary and K-8 students living at least a half-mile from their schools and for middle and high school students living at least 1 mile away.

The board will likely address these issues in a special session next month because a decision must be made soon if it's to be implemented for the 2014-15 school year.

Compton didn't have specifics on what the plan might cost.

"I'm going to see how creative with bell times I can get," he said, referring to the time the school day begins and ends. "There may be more changes in bell times."

Since courtesy busing ended three years ago in an effort to save money, few issues have sparked more outrage. Many have come before the School Board to express concerns about the long distances young children are forced to walk, the lack of shelter from inclement weather and even the excessive weight of backpacks. They have voiced their fears about the shortage of sidewalks in the county, dangerous traffic and lurking sexual predators.

The six plans brought forward on Tuesday varied widely in impact — and cost. The annual costs ranged from a savings of $600,000 to a price tag of $2.35 million. Four of the plans came with changes to school bell times.

At a December board meeting, Compton presented other busing options, but they would have restored courtesy busing only for certain groups. He said the board directed him to return with options that would bring busing back for all students.

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes.

Comments
USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

ST. PETERSBURG — Holding a piece of computer paper and a microphone, the leader of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg began a Friday afternoon forum by repeating the USF administration’s new mantra.He reassured the crowd before him that t...
Published: 01/19/18

Crews Lake thespians overcome the odds

SPRING HILL — It’s 8:30 a.m. — "homeroom" period in school speak — when kids in the Crews Lake Middle School drama club file into an empty chorus room to begin rehearsing under the direction of language arts teacher Kristen Sykora. There’s only 25 m...
Published: 01/19/18
Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins on Friday announced the first in a series of belt-tightening moves that include the elimination of three six-figure positions.Jobs now held by Wynne Tye and Larry Sykes will no longer exis...
Published: 01/19/18
Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

The Florida Department of Health has reported a sharp increase in flu activity in the last several weeks, prompting area schools to send out letters warning parents about the virus. At least two districts, however, say that flu activity in their scho...
Published: 01/19/18

More than 400 apply to Pasco technical high school

School choice for 2018-19 is in full swing, and district officials said they’ve been pleased with the interest they’ve seen so far.The window for applying to the district’s magnet schools closed Jan. 12, except for applications for the new Wendell Kr...
Published: 01/18/18
Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

"On Nov. 3, 2017, the Tallahassee Police Department responded to 1012 Buena Vista Drive … in reference to a death investigation."So begins a charging document in the case of Andrew Coffey, the 20-year-old Florida State University student who was foun...
Published: 01/18/18
In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In the state capitol on Wednesday, lawmakers breezed through the bullet points of a higher education bill. They skimmed past a hot-button proposal to consolidate the University of South Florida System into a single university without a peep of pushba...
Published: 01/18/18
Lithia Springs Elementary gets kids up with standing desks

Lithia Springs Elementary gets kids up with standing desks

VALRICO — Fifth-grade math teacher Melissa Forsythe walked around her Lithia Springs Elementary School classroom on Tuesday with zeal.She stopped at each station and listened with a big smile on her face as her students told stories about their new s...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

TAMPA — They were hoping to receive between $15 million and $17 million in scheduled pay raises. But the Hillsborough County school district says it can’t afford to give its teachers anywhere near that much, while the teachers say they deserve nothin...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18
Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

NEW PORT RICHEY — At age 28, things were really shaping up for Joel Santos-Gonzalez. Fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher, he had just completed his third year at Gulf Middle School."I always liked to talk to people on an intellectual ...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18