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BDS faces backlash after bus policy changes

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 6:09 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Bay County’s big yellow buses aren’t stopping for everyone this school year. Bay District Schools now aligns with the state statute, only picking up students two miles or further from their designated school.

“Our child has gone to Patronis Elementary her entire school years, and this is the first year that she has not been provided with bus transportation,” Patronis Elementary Parent Chandra Buckhout said.

Some parents are frustrated.

“If you are required by law to attend school, which is acceptable, I feel like they should be provided a safe method to get there,” A. Crawford Mosely High School Parent Justin Verlinger said.

“I’m not going to let my 10-year-old daughter walk 1.2 miles to school down these roads because as you can see, there’s no sidewalks,” Buckhout said.

Sidewalks aren’t their only concern. Some parents say they’re worried about sex trafficking.

“I don’t know every single car driving down the road,” Verlinger said.

Some parents also say they’re concerned about kids having to walk with the unpredictable Florida weather.

“It’s beautiful now, and then you can turn around, and it looks like Armageddon in the sky,” Verlinger said.

District board members said our bus drivers were giving more courtesy rides than any other area in the state. But without enough people to drive the buses, they just can’t make it to every bus stop anymore.

“We looked at the thousands of different routes that we have, but we simply don’t have enough bus drivers,” Chairman Steve Moss said.

Officials said they need at least 20 more drivers.

But they say they understand parents’ concerns and are asking those who feel their child is unsafe, to reach out.

“If they think there’s a neighborhood or quote a dangerous neighborhood or a walkway or a sidewalk or a street that’s hazardous, they can petition the transportation department and say we don’t think this is a safe route for our student to walk to school,” Moss said.

You can reach Bay District Schools Transportation Department at (850) 767-4495 or BusTrans@bay.k12.fl.us

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