A battle over changing bell times at Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School may not be over.
The Pinellas County School Board voted to change the times to 9:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m. recently as a cost-cutting move. But since then, parent outrage has boiled over. A student has started a petition drive. And School Board member Terry Krassner now says she will try to persuade the board to reverse course at its Tuesday meeting.
"There's more than a big majority that would rather not have the transportation and have the hours that work for their children," she said.
Krassner said she wants the board to look at deleting policy language that requires busing to be provided to Thurgood and to Osceola Fundamental High School — the only fundamental schools that get busing. She said she wants the change to go into effect for Thurgood for the 2011-2012 school year and for Osceola for the 2012-2013 school year. She said that would allow Thurgood to change its start time back to 7:20 a.m.
Krassner's comments come as the district has been flooded with e-mails opposing the bell times change. About 170 have been sent to board members since Thursday's meeting. Meanwhile, a Thurgood student (full disclosure: he's the son of a St. Petersburg Times employee) launched this petition.
The district says moving the start time at Thurgood will allow it to rearrange other bus routes and save $1.9 million. Superintendent Julie Janssen also said she was concerned about the families who may not be able to send their children to Thurgood without busing.
Seventy-three percent of those who responded to a district survey said they would provide transportation to Thurgood to keep the same start times; 27 percent said they would not.
Krassner said she thinks many bus riders live in nearby neighborhoods and within walking distance. She said those who need transportation still have options with carpooling.