Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

High Anxiety over Buses; Bus Stops, or Lack Thereof, Surfaces between School Board and Parents

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

High Anxiety over Buses; Bus Stops, or Lack Thereof, Surfaces between School Board and Parents

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

A School Board member described Clay County school district staffers as penny pinching bureaucrats.

The school superintendent accused that board member of political posturing and staff harassment.

An angry parent called the entire proceedings a hoax, yelled at the board chairman and got himself thrown out of the meeting.

Nothing like a discussion about busing to get people riled up.

The antics at Monday's School Board meeting stemmed from an ongoing debate about whether to expand the number of students eligible for bus transportation. Earlier this month, the board decided an expansion would be too costly and the issue was not on the agenda for Monday's meeting.

But several parents who are still seeking busing for their children appealed to the board during a citizen comment period. Their comments sparked more discussion, which ultimately turned chaotic.

"This is a ruse and nothing more than that!" shouted parent Michael Sharpe, after he engaged in a shouting match with Board Chairman Carol Vallencourt and was ordered to leave the room.

Under current district policy, bus transportation is provided free to all students who live at least 1.5 miles from their assigned elementary school, 2 miles from their assigned junior or high school or who face hazardous conditions, such as having to cross a heavily-traveled roadway. The district gets state funding only for transporting students who live 2 miles away or greater.

Every year, as new residential developments are opened and new streets are added, school attendance boundaries are shifted and some bus routes are revised. This year, about nine bus stops were dropped.

Some of those dropped stops were in the Bear Run subdivision, forcing elementary children to walk to Ridgeview Elementary, along what parents view as a dangerous route. Another dropped stop was formerly used by Sharpe's daughter to get to Lakeside Junior High.

Also, some parents said the district incorrectly measured the distance from homes to schools, measuring from outside entrance gates on school campuses rather than school buildings. …

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