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Hillsborough School Board offers superintendent suggestions on fixing busing

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School Board members gave superintendent MaryEllen Elia an earful of advice Tuesday about ways to fix the transportation mess the district found itself in as schools opened this year.

Among the ideas: incentives for bus drivers to help attract and keep them, varied bell schedules at some schools and shifting transportation out of the informational technology division.

The district, which took on a widespread overhaul of its transportation department, changed bus stops and routes in the southern and northwest parts of the county to improve efficiency.

Board members asked Elia to address their concerns at a future workshop. She said she welcomed their views.

Board member April Griffin proposed making transportation a separate division.

"From the beginning, I always wondered why it was under IT," Griffin said. "In learning about transportation, I've learned it has been the redheaded stepchild of the district."

Vice Chairwoman Carol Kurdell suggested paying bus drivers bonuses to keep them. And Chairwoman Jennifer Faliero said perhaps changing bell times might help buses run more smoothly.

Elia said that since the start of school last month, buses have begun running on time and in many cases, are running more on schedule than last year.

Board member Jack Lamb reminded his colleagues that a consultant had warned them that the overhaul was going to be "very painful and very time consuming, and boy was he right."

Times staff writer Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813) 269-5312 or nguyen@sptimes.com.

Hillsborough School Board offers superintendent suggestions on fixing busing 09/16/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 11:58pm]
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