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Pasco school officials brainstorm improvements to busing system

Published Sep. 6, 2013

LAND O'LAKES — Nobody said the conversation would be easy.

At superintendent Kurt Browning's direction, Pasco School District officials spent nearly two hours reviewing all the things that went wrong on school buses in the first days of classes. A variety of complaints, paired with a district response that problems always arise early in the school year, prompted Browning to call for improvements.

The group found problems in communications, school procedures, routing and transportation department practices and systems. Next steps began the next day.

"There's just a ton of things that we're looking at," said Ray Bonti, executive director for district support services.

Officials already have talked to companies that specialize in technology that streamlines bus routes to see what options are available and affordable to the district. They have investigated global positioning systems and upgraded radios with more stable frequencies for bus drivers to use.

They've also started preparing training modules for school principals and teachers to learn the best way to handle such things as dismissal during inclement weather and the organization of car and bus loops at drop-off and pick-up times. A common plan to quickly alert parents to any problems is under investigation, in addition to the creation of a call center with a single phone number for transportation-related questions.

Bonti said he visited Hillsborough County to learn more about its practices. Hillsborough's practice of not immediately issuing bus assignments to students who register in the days right before school begins also might be a possibility for Pasco.

All of the ideas require additional study before anything is put in place.

"There won't be any big changes immediately," Bonti said. "We are looking toward the first day of school next year."

The transportation department is slated for a reorganization, along with the rest of the district administration. Some recommendations for improvements are expected to be released along with the reorganization plan in the coming weeks.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at