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Scene still confusing at Fifth Avenue N school bus stop in Pinellas

ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas County's most confusing intersection was again the scene of chaos as Day 2 of the new school year began.

Students from Pinellas Park, Dixie Hollins, Osceola, Lakewood and St. Petersburg high schools began arriving at their bus stop at 66th Street and Fifth Avenue N at 5:45 a.m. They stationed themselves on one of the four corners of the busy intersection and hoped they were in the right spot.

As they did Tuesday, at least 50 high school students massing at the out-of-zone school bus stop crisscrossed the bustling intersection on foot as they tried to find their bus. Several students missed them and were left with little hope from district administrators that the situation might improve.

District transportation workers arrived at 6 a.m. and studied route sheets under the glow of street lights and called out directions. At times they seemed as confused as the kids.

School district safety officer Mary Sue Cross arrived at 5:30 a.m. but had to park a block away on a side street just to observe Tuesday's hectic scene.

At least one Pinellas Park High student missed his bus because he was on the wrong corner.

As they did Tuesday, many parents pulled into the fire station on the southeast corner or the dentist's office on the northeast corner to drop their children off. But some simply stopped at the light — whether it was red or green — let their kids out, and kept going.

Ron Schnell waited with his daughter, a Lakewood High 10th-grader.

"I'm insulted," Schnell said of the district's presence at the corner. "Why weren't they here yesterday?"

District transportation director Rick McBride indicated late Tuesday that the stop likely would be changed. But field operations supervisor Bill Moan said Wednesday morning that "once we designate which corner they should stand on, things should be fine."

There was one bright spot: Students waiting for the bus to Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle were told their new stop would be about 200 feet north of the intersection at a PSTA bus shelter.

That pleased Teal Anderson, who watched as her 12-year-old daughter walked with a dozen other middle schoolers toward the shelter. Several minutes later, Anderson tensed as a city bus pulled up to the stop and opened its doors.

She only started breathing again as the bus rumbled away with no school kids on board.

Scene still confusing at Fifth Avenue N school bus stop in Pinellas 08/26/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 11:13am]
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