LITHIA, Fla. (WTSP) -- A big change is coming for students who live within two miles of their school in Hillsborough County. There will be no more courtesy bus rides for middle and high schoolers starting next school year. The school board made the decision Tuesday night, and it has parents worried sick.
Amy Latimer lives in Lithia. She has two sons who go to Randall Middle School, about a mile and a half from their house.
10News WTSP drove with Latimer along the route they’d have to walk if they can’t take the bus.
“On this road alone, we have major safety issues,” she said, referring to Lithia-Pinecrest Road. “We have a lack of sidewalks on both sides, heavy traffic, especially at 8 o'clock in the morning where it's backed up for three miles.”
The next road they’d walk on, FishHawk Boulevard, has sidewalks and some crosswalks, but Latimer said it’s still busy and dangerous.
“If you add more cars and walkers into it, there's going to be fatalities every time you open your newspaper,” she said.
Hillsborough County School Board Chair Cindy Stuart said the district will keep providing courtesy busing to students in areas where it'd be too dangerous for them to walk to school, but the FishHawk area probably isn't one of them.
“They have all kinds of infrastructure,” she said. “There's lighting, there's trails, there's sidewalks, so there really is a way for students to get back and forth to school.”
The district is hoping to save millions of dollars, which would go directly to the schools, with this plan.
“We've got to get back to putting more money into schools, and this is one way for us to look at that,” Stuart said.
However, Latimer said if the students can't get to and from school safely, that money is no use.
The district plans to get rid of courtesy rides for elementary schools in the 2018-2019 school year, but that will take an additional school board vote.
For now, the district plans to work with parents to help them figure out how to get their kids to and from school, whether that’s walking, riding a bike, driving or carpooling.
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