TAMPA — A group of students at Maniscalco Elementary who were left without a bus to their neighborhood park after school will now share a bus with special-needs children.
Hillsborough school officials agreed to transport 24 children to Nye Park, about a mile north of the school, on a special-needs bus even though the park is just outside the boundaries, said Ken Otero, the district's deputy superintendent.
"We've always said that if we can do something that doesn't cost us anymore, doesn't change a route, doesn't add any time that will delay that bus, then yes, we can do it," Otero said.
But parents who have been complaining to the district for weeks said the concession was not enough because they wanted room for an additional 38 children.
According to parent Dawn Byrd, 62 children were registered for aftercare at Nye Park. A few days before school began, the park staff told the parents the district would no longer provide transportation as part of its overhaul of the transportation department and redrawing of bus routes.
Amid the uproar, the district provided a bus until Oct. 1 so the issue could be sorted out. Many parents made their own arrangements while waiting for the issue to be resolved, so they did not use the temporary bus, Byrd said.
During a meeting with Otero last week, Byrd had suggested several options, including dismissing students five minutes early to hop on a bus to Nye Park. That would give the bus enough time to return to the school to make its usual runs.
"If only 24 kids need transportation to Nye Park, I'm happy," Byrd said.
"If only half the kids who need it are getting transportation, I'm not happy."
Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813) 269-5312 or [email protected].