Parent says new boundaries may affect school bus eligibility

'All of this redistricting of student attendance zones really needs to be done carefully.'

Plans by the Hillsborough County School District to repurpose schools and set new attendance boundaries are the subject of a series of public meetings scheduled for next week.

Some parents say they are keeping an open mind with these new school boundaries, and the possibility that their children may have to switch schools.

Others are raising concerns about transportation.

“All of this redistricting of student attendance zones really needs to be done carefully,” said Josephine Amato.

Amato raised all three of her children through Hillsborough County Schools. Two attended Barrington Middle School.

“This is Barrington Middle School,” she pointed at the campus. “These are temporary classrooms.”

She says that is the result of the rapid population growth Hillsborough County has seen over the last few years. The middle school is one of many experiencing overcrowding. To rectify the problem, the school district is looking to repurpose some schools and possibly close others.

“We have very few choices of how many schools in East and South County actually have capacity, so we’re playing checkers,” she added.

Amato says the proposal to move students to different schools could complicate transportation.

“Distance is not necessarily the only way to predict what makes sense because sometimes you can live closer to a school, but the congestion of that school is far greater than to a school further away,” she added.

She founded the organization Safe Bus for Us which advocates for school bus transportation for every student.

Amato says some students may become ineligible for school bus transportation​ per the State Board of Education’s 2-mile radius rule.

“You’re actually taking time from parents who do not have time, who rely on school buses to get their kids to school safely,” she added.

It’s a concern she plans to bring up during public meetings next week.

Safe Bus for Us is demanding:

—  A detailed fiscal cost savings identified with each school attendance rezoning.

— True public meetings that have decision-makers listening to public comments. Not static displays or only accepting written comments not heard by the public at large in attendance at a public meeting.

— A published transportation routing plan included in the rezoning.

Parents are invited to attend one of 10 in-person meetings so they can ask questions and give feedback.

Spectrum News


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