Hillsborough parents not happy that fewer students allowed to ride buses

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough County parents say if things don’t change, students could die trying to get to school. “A parent shouldn’t have to worry if a child will live getting to school,” said Josephine Amato, mother.

This school year, 7,500 fewer kids in Hillsborough have access to courtesy busing, a change that saves the school district $3 million.

Josephine Amato’s children now must walk to school. Amato has been vocal about how the switch is putting her kids, and others in danger.

“You put your child in a car seat and drove them to school you will increase their safety by 70 percent if you put your child on a school bus and send them to school you increase their safety by 7,000 percent,” said Amato.

Dozens of parents have reached out to the school board about this, citing cases where students walking to school has turned deadly. In March of 2014, two Middleton sisters were hit crossing Hillsborough Avenue. One of them died.

Two weeks later, another student was seriously injured as he tried to cross the street.

The district now has more than 100,000 students who do not take the bus to get to school.

“For those students, we would just encourage them to make sure they follow the rules if they are riding their bikes. Follow the rules if they are riding to and from school, walking stay on the sidewalks if there are sidewalks available,” said Jamie Warrington, Safety and Training Manager with Hillsborough County Public School’s Transportation Department.

Wednesday the general manager of transportation for Hillsborough County Public Schools will be at J. Crockett Farnell Middle School to examine how students are getting to school, and talk with parents.

Hillsborough School District spokeswoman Tanya Arja tells 8 on Your Side parents can appeal case-by-case decisions to end courtesy busing by filling out a “Hazardous Walking Concern Review Request” or by calling the district directly.

Pinellas County did away with courtesy busing years ago.

Be sure to watch WFLA News Channel 8 from 4:30 to 7 a.m. during the month of August. Every morning, we’ll bring you a special back-to-school story to help you and your family prepare for the school year.

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