Saturday, June 23, 2018
Education

Hernando offers busing flexibility for those living too close to school

BROOKSVILLE — Amy Plunkett lives 1.99 miles from Deltona Elementary School, where her 7-year-old will be a second-grader this year.

By the slightest of margins, it means her son is too close to school to ride a bus.

Or so she thought.

A change this school year will allow students who live within the 2-mile no-busing radius — or in other places where students can't get a bus to school — to use the closest existing stop, as long as there is room on the bus.

Plunkett signed right up and hopes to be approved.

"I was thrilled that (the district) at least give the opportunity," she said. "Before they implemented this, if you lived within the 2 miles, you were (out of luck). At least parents have a chance to get their children on a bus."

The change would keep her from having to change her work hours or make special arrangements for day care before and after school.

So far, the district has only gotten about 50 applications for the program, said district transportation director Douglas Compton.

"(We thought) this would be a great way to serve customers who are under 2 miles or not in zone," Compton said, noting that there is no additional cost to the district. "We're already running the bus."

The school district had stopped offering bus service inside the 2-mile radius last year to save money.

The new program is fairly straightforward.

Parents or guardians submit an application and, if there is room on the bus, students may use the closest existing stop.

Applications will be approved on Sept. 15 at the earliest.

The district says no new stops will be created. Also, if there are more requests for space than bus seats, preference will be given to students based first on the lowest grade level, then by youngest age and finally by the farthest distance from school.

The "space availability" policy might be especially helpful for parents whose children received busing last year but, for various reasons, will not this year.

At least 100 students who were bused to school last year won't have the service when school starts Monday after a review determined that they actually live within the 2-mile no-transportation zone.

A total of four areas mistakenly received busing last year, Compton said, noting that parents were notified of the mistake earlier this summer. The students were removed from busing lists, which he said was the fair thing to do.

The changes eliminate busing for Floyd K-8 students living in Pristine Place and Hibiscus Springs in Spring Hill, for Moton Elementary students living in Hillside Estates in Brooksville, and for Brooksville Elementary students living in Da-Mac Estates on the north side of Brooksville.

With the new year about to begin, few things have changed as much as the district's busing plan.

Two weeks ago, the district saved an estimated $888,000 by streamlining bus routes. The transportation department eliminated 24 routes, adding roughly 10 students to each remaining route.

There have been a number of behind-the-scenes changes, too.

For the first time, the district has gone to a computerized system to determine bus routes instead of relying on past routes. And the 2-mile boundaries were re-evaluated.

Superintendent Bryan Blavatt credited Compton, who joined the district in May, for the changes.

"He's done a great job," Blavatt said.

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432.

Comments
First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

TAMPA — As chief of diversity for the Hillsborough County School District, Minerva Spanner-Morrow tries to keep her expectations realistic."We want the best of the best and I know that’s very difficult," she told principals last week as they prepared...
Published: 06/23/18
Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE — With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Board’s close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano — and days before her time as head of the district runs out — school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Published: 06/20/18
Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

BROOKSVILLE — As schools and districts across the state await their 2018 grades from the Florida Department of Education, the standardized test scores that factor into those ratings and were dropped last week show slight gains in Hernando County.The ...
Published: 06/20/18
Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

An early analysis of the Pasco County School District’s 2018-2019 budget projects a deficit of more than a million dollars, with more than half of that coming from a shortfall in funding new school safety requirements.Costs to hire and train 53 new s...
Published: 06/20/18
New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

ST. PETERSBURG — Originally pitched as a nine- or 10-story, 550-bed dorm for the overcrowded University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, USF’s latest residence hall project will likely look much different by the time it’s done.For starters, it...
Published: 06/20/18
Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Am I missing something in the — pardon the expression — brouhaha over the renaming of the University of South Florida Sun Dome to the Yuengling Center? In trading a college arena’s longtime name for that of a big-name beer brewed ne...
Published: 06/20/18

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

DADE CITY —Just a few weeks into summer vacation, Pasco Middle School student Jade Neal, 14, was back at school, delving into a challenging STEM activity on force in motion, as the theme to Mission Impossible played in the background.The assignment? ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18