Parents protest end of bussing program

In the 1960s, people staged sit-ins to protest. Tuesday, a group of disgruntled parents in Lithia took a very different approach.

They vowed to drive their kids to Newsome High and Randall Middle Schools to hopefully create traffic tie ups. Their goal was to get the attention of the Hillsborough County School Board. The board recently decided to stop courtesy bussing for middle and high school students.

State law says bus transportation will not be provided for children who live less than two miles from their school. Courtesy bussing is a way around that.

Eliminating courtesy bussing would save millions of dollars a year.

"When children's lives are at stake, the budget concerns are secondary," said Jo Amado. Amado is a leader the group "Safe Bus for Us"  which organized the protest.

Despite the effort to get parents to turn out in great numbers, the flow of cars at both schools was steady but not overwhelming.

Amado says she is not disappointed with the less than spectacular showing. She says the focus should be safety.

Without courtesy bussing, students would end up walking or biking to school. Safe Bus for Us says that would be dangerous because there are not enough sidewalks. The group says if parents drove their kids to
school, it would cause traffic congestion.

"Like any issue, they'll look at this," said Jason Pepe, a district spokesman. "But the issue has been decided."

Last month. The board voted to eliminate courtesy bussing for middle and high students by next fall. They are considering getting rid of the service for elementary schoolers as well.