Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco school district plans for smoother bus system

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County school district officials are quick to acknowledge they've done a bad job keeping parents informed of school bus problems as they arise.

"We weren't doing a very good job communicating to our parents, communicating to our principals," Ray Bonti, executive director for operations, told the School Board on Tuesday. "Therefore, we had some lapses in our systems."

Parents didn't know when their children's buses were running behind, for instance. Sometimes they had to scramble as bus routes changed overnight.

And when they called the district, the most common response was a busy signal.

After learning of this chaos in August, superintendent Kurt Browning vowed to improve the model. On Tuesday, his staff presented several changes to the district transportation effort.

In the spring, the district will ask parents to fill out a form saying whether they plan to use the school bus the following year, and if they are satisfied with their current bus stop.

That initiative aims to set up routes earlier than in the past, without as much confusion in the first days of classes.

"Our goal is to go from 4,000 last-minute changes to 10 percent of that, or 400 last-minute changes," Bonti said.

If problems do arise, the next step is to get information to parents more quickly.

That effort will include using new technology to track when buses arrive at schools and leave, with the information going to a call center. That call center will have a single phone number that parents can call for details, and it will operate for the first 10 days of classes.

"We will be able to answer questions for parents that we have not been able to answer in the past," Bonti said.

Law enforcement will help as well, in making sure that parents in car pick-up and drop-off lines do not get in the way of bus lanes. Last fall, some buses ran late because they could not get into or out of their schools.

Because the district stacks its bus routes, with each bus running for high schools, then middle schools, then elementary schools, being late at one can affect all.

Transportation director Gary Sawyer said the new operational model for the first days of school are part of a larger effort to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of his department.

He told the board that the department is recommending new hardware, such as Global Positioning Systems, new software for routing, and reorganized staffing. He said the changes should take place beginning in the 2014-15 school year.

Board members were enthusiastic about the idea of keeping better track of students and buses. They did not take any formal action on the presentation.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at jsolochek@tampabay.com.

Pasco school district plans for smoother bus system 01/21/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 9:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Report: Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence

    National

    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials.

    From  left, CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers take their seats on Capitol Hill on May 11 before  testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. [Associated Press]
  2. Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence

    National

    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, current and former officials said, according to the Washington Post.

    After President Donald Trump fired James Comey, shown here, as FBI director, the Washington Post is reporting, Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.
  3. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”
  4. Romano: Time is up chief, make a call on police body cameras

    Crime

    Excuse me chief, but it's time to take a stand.

    St. Petersburg police Chief Tony Holloway
  5. Potential new laws further curb Floridians' right to government in the Sunshine

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — From temporarily shielding the identities of murder witnesses to permanently sealing millions of criminal and arrest records, state lawmakers did more this spring than they have in all but one of the past 22 years to chip away at Floridians' constitutional guarantees to access government records and …

    The Legislature passed 17 new exemptions to the Sunshine Law, according to a tally by the First Amendment Foundation.