90 bus stops eliminated for Martin County Schools, hundreds of students impacted
MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. (CBS12) —
One week from school starting, some parents are concerned for their children’s safety.
In Martin County, 90 bus stops have been eliminated for the 2017-2018 school year, impacting about 600 students. Those students now forced to walk or find another ride to school.
Superintendent Laurie Gaylord from Martin County Schools said they’re now following the Florida State Statute. That statute states students who live within a two mile radius of the school can’t take the bus.
“If you live two miles or over, over two miles from the school, we get reimbursement for transportation cost per student but if you live under two miles there’s no reimbursement cost,” said Superintendent Gaylord.
She said they didn’t follow this when the statute went into effect in 2015 because construction made the route for some students to be considered “hazardous conditions.”
The statute states hazardous conditions are an exception.
“I would think crossing US 1, crossing railroad tracks would be considered hazardous conditions,” said a concerned parent. She continued, “They're extremely dangerous, you have people running red lights, people speeding and at what point do we care to take notice of that. You're putting our children at risk and it's very concerning.”
This woman, who wished to remain anonymous said her 12-year-old son has to walk 1.7 miles to school this year.
She said, “Just a few blocks down there will be students that are able to ride the bus, so the bus will literally drive right by my street and not pick up my child and he has to spend about 40 minutes walking to school.”
She said she first found out about this possibility in March 2017 when she was asked to turn in her concerns about the route her son would have to take, which she did. After that she said she didn’t hear anything until a week ago, two weeks before school.
She said she got a call stating that her son could not take the bus, but that she could apply for a seat on the bus.
That seat comes at a first come first serve basis and costs $425 a year.
“At what point does cost savings or Florida statutes or what not, trump safety? I would think that our county should care about the safety of our children,” said concerned mother.
Superintendent Gaylord replied and said, “We took this very seriously. We checked with other districts, other districts following the state statute not busing their kids under two miles and what do they do. That's really when we learned about the fee for ridership when we looked at other counties.”
Superintendent Gaylord said 20 applications have been turned in so far. Those students will be notified if they have a seat on the bus a few weeks into the school year.
If not and if parents are still concerned, she urges you to contact local legislators.