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Monday, Mar 30, 2015

School board schedules special meeting to resolve busing issue


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BROOKSVILLE - The school board has scheduled a special meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday to narrow down a plan for a partial return to so-called courtesy busing for students who live within two miles of their zoned schools.

Transportation Director Doug Compton was asked by the board to provide a cost estimate as soon as possible should the district decide to bus kindergarten through eighth-grade students who live more than one mile from school.

To bus all elementary and K-8 students who live more than a half-mile from school, and all middle and high school students who live more than one mile from school, the district will need to increase transportation funding between $500,000 and $1.35 million annually, according to a copy of the presentation Compton will present March 4.

The presentation also states a one-time allocation of between $1 million and $2.5 million is needed.

Compton's presentation also states the department will need additional support staff for all options at an annual cost of $100,000, and additional drivers for one option at an annual cost of $250,000.

Bell times will need to be adjusted for all options and must change as early as possible, according to the presentation.

Expanding routes and adding 10 buses will cost $1 million, which is the estimated cost for two of three options.

The remaining option proposes adding 25 buses, which Compton estimates will cost $2.5 million. In 2011, the Florida Department of Education stopped giving school districts funding to bus students who live less than 2 miles from school.

As a result of change, Hernando County Schools reduced its number of routes from 158 to 139, with an estimated savings of $54,000 per route.

That translates into a savings of more than $1 million for the district, according to School Superintendent Lori Romano.

Since the busing was eliminated, residential areas have been crowded with morning and afternoon traffic, forcing the need for traffic safety improvement projects.

County commissioners also passed an ordinance prohibiting parking in residential areas near schools in the hopes of reducing congestion for residents in those areas.

Parents have also complained about the dangers they and their children face just getting to school.

For instance, there are a combined 486 sex offenders registered as living within a 2 mile radius of Hernando County's elementary and middle schools, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

(352) 544-5271

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