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Hernando School Board reverses vote, okays busing for some students living near elementary schools

BROOKSVILLE — Reversing a previous vote, the Hernando County School Board has decided to restore busing for some elementary-age students who live within 2 miles of their schools.

Board members voted 3-2 Tuesday night to offer busing for students who live between 1 and 2 miles from the county's nine elementary schools beginning in the 2014-15 school year.

Last month, board members rejected a plan to restore busing for those students. That decision, combined with the recent approval of new bell times, would have resulted in savings of roughly $600,000. That money now will be used to bus the additional elementary students.

Cynthia Moore, the only board member who changed her vote, said she voted against the busing plan in April because she wanted to see whether additional buses would be needed for Westside Elementary School, which might need to be closed next year for roof repairs. Moore said she was told the added buses would not be needed, so she decided to revisit the issue.

"My thing was to see if we needed the buses for Westside," she said.

She said she didn't receive any calls urging her to change her mind and that she eventually would like to see busing brought back for all students who need it.

The restoration of so-called courtesy busing has been one of the most contentious issues of the past school year, consuming months of information gathering and discussion. The board considered 15 different busing options in a handful of workshops and meetings.

The district's 2-mile non-transportation zone has been in place for three years and was implemented as a cost-cutting measure.

Moore was joined by School Board members Matt Foreman and Gus Guadagnino in supporting the added busing on Tuesday. Board members John Sweeney and Dianne Bonfield voted against it.

Sweeney and Bonfield have said they could not support a plan that did not restore busing for students living near the district's K-8 schools.

Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432. Follow him on Twitter @HernandoTimes.

Hernando School Board reverses vote, okays busing for some students living near elementary schools 05/07/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 9:07pm]
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