Tampa, FL -- In response to grieving and concerned parents, the Meridian Pointe apartment complex will have its own school bus stop for students attending nearby Middleton High School.
Middleton High students living in the community at 25th Street and Hillsborough Avenue can catch the bus at 7:00 a.m. and will be dropped off back after school at about 3:05 p.m. The Hillsborough school year starts Tuesday.
"And we're going to work with the students who live there to make sure they understand what we're doing and why we're doing it," said Hillsborough Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia.
BUS STOP:District adds bus stop for students
In March, 15-year-old Norma Velasquez-Cabrera was killed and her sister was injured as they, like so many students, tried to dart across the busy stretch of road.
There's a tempting, dangerous short cut between the apartment complex and school, which students continued to use despite pleas from school officials and community activists.
A Florida Department of Transportation study concluded there had been so many pedestrian and bicycle incidents in the same area, that a lighted intersection is needed.
But constructing one will take several months.
"And we don't want to take the chance that anything could happen in the meantime," said Elia.
Parents here hopeful most of the complex's 24 or so students eligible to ride the bus will.
"I think they should be smart to take advantage of the ride," said resident Mario Simms, calling the bus a much safer and convenient alternative.
ANOTHER CASE:Teen struck while crossing Hillsborough
The school board was willing to make an exception to its own two-mile rule, which normally requires students living within that distance of a school to find their own transportation.
"An unsafe condition is what drives the decision," said Elia, "That is an exception to the rule. And that's the case that we believe occurs right there."
It could take another year, says FDOT, to install the traffic light and crosswalk at Hillsborough Avenue and 25th Street.
School officials say they will keep the bus stop in place at least that long, and then re-evaluate the need for it once improvements to the intersection have been completed.