School is 3 miles; bus ride 50 minutes | Aug. 10 letter
School bus stops outrageously early
I read with interest the letter from the Palm Harbor mom who finds that her elementary school-aged children will have a 50-minute commute in the morning if they take the bus.
I find my family in a similar situation and originally thought that it was because we live so far north — just shy of the Pasco County line on East Lake Road.
Our bus, route number 113, will arrive at our designated stop at 7:37 a.m. We live just over 2 miles north of the school.
With a school start time of 8:50 a.m., I originally thought that the pickup time printed on the postcard was in error. I contacted the school Transportation Department, and Jim Dudley was kind enough to return my call promptly.
As it turns out, some families at Brooker Creek Elementary who were delighted to finally have a more "normal" start time of 8:50 a.m. (versus 7:40 a.m. for the previous three years) are finding it's a bit of a poison pill.
The reason? Certain routes will now share a bus — Brooker Creek and Cypress Woods Elementary students will travel together. Jim explained that route number 113 stops first in our neighborhood at 7:37, then makes its way around northern Pinellas County to about 14 other stops. It then heads to Cypress Woods to drop those students, and finally makes its way to Brooker Creek at 8:35 a.m. Yes, almost exactly one hour on the bus for my children.
Needless to say, my children will not be taking the bus to school in the mornings. Most of the parents in our neighborhood will be carpooling, since we can leave our homes at 8:20 a.m. and still have the kids at school by 8:35 quite easily.
It's not in the students' best interests to have them up so early and riding a bus for an hour. It is not conducive to creating a good learning environment for these children.
It appears that families in the Pinellas County school district are continually faced with these kinds of tradeoffs. Perhaps when children are truly going to "close-to-home" schools in about four years, we'll have the ability to provide busing schedules that are a little less outrageous.
For now, my children (and many others, I'm sure) will continue to be car riders, at least in the mornings, and our buses will continue to be underutilized.
Frances Keefe, Tarpon Springs
Get prisoners to clean our land
Because of budget cuts, the county's Environmental Lands Division is recruiting volunteers to maintain almost 16,000 acres of public land reserves.
It never ceases to amaze me the many groups of eager volunteers picking up trash at our parks and beaches.
We see signs along our highways with the names of businesses and civic organizations who have adopted that particular stretch of highway.
I wonder if the county has considered an untapped resource of "volunteers" who are sitting in air-conditioned jail cells, playing softball and basketball, watching TV, using the gym, checking out the law library, getting dental and health care and being provided with three meals per day.
They could spend hours on the tasks that the county employees can no longer handle and still have ample time for their other "activities."
As long as we taxpayers are taking care of them, they should take care of these projects, thus eliminating the need for volunteers.
Lil Cromer, Belleair