Courtesy busing program to end in Hillsborough Coutny

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Thousands of Hillsborough County Schools students who currently take the bus might have to find a different way to school next year, a district spokesperson confirmed Friday.

Of the 50,231 middle and high school students who ride the bus, roughly 7,500 of them are provided "courtesy buses."

The courtesy busing program is available to students who live within two miles of their school but have a route that is made dangerous by "hazardous conditions" such as construction, heavy traffic or a shoulder that isn't wide enough.

The district said it reviewed the courtesy busing system and determined only about 800 kids will be eligible next school year.

"If they no longer meet that state criteria, then we are going to end the courtesy busing for those students in the '17-'18 school year," said Tanya Arja, a district spokesperson.

Arja said the district's general manager of transportation recommended the changes and an outside consultant determined the changes could save the district millions of dollars.

"It's about eight to ten million dollars in savings," said Arja. "We will be able to then put [the money] back into the classroom and students will be able to see that district-wide."

Parents have mixed feelings.

"It's going to put a lot of pressure on the parents having to transport and make sure the kids get to their school safe," said Amy Keener.

"There's no reason why people within a mile or two can't walk to school," said Janet Trapuzzano. "Then it gives back to the kids."

The school board will discuss the proposal Tuesday and is planning to vote on it. It could extend to elementary schools in the near future.