Hillsborough County busing concerns continue

TAMPA - A battle rages over busing at Hillsborough County schools and your kids are caught in the middle.

School Board member April Griffin doesn’t think the vehicles are safe despite ongoing complaints.

“Not yet,” she said.

Griffin said numerous problems have been brought to her attention, everything from mechanical issues to improper training for some drivers.

Susan Valdes, vice chair of the Hillsborough County School Board, said those issues came to light when they were brought forward by mechanics and drivers who work for the district.

"I'm glad that these employees are coming out to speak to us,” she said.

The district said they are aware of the concerns, specifically from one individual, a recently hired mechanic who is reported to have said he wouldn’t let his grandchildren ride a school bus.

"We need to look to see if there is anything to it that we need to address," district spokesman Steve Hegarty said. "And right now that's the process."

But he also pointed out that when the School Board had the opportunity to buy 28 new buses before the beginning of the school year, the school board turned down the deal.

“We came back with another recommendation,” he said. “We needed to buy some school buses. That was turned down by the School Board."

But Griffin called that spin. She said the bus deal was turned down because of serious pricing issues and the district has since hired a consultant to take a look at that issue.

Valdes agreed and added that 28 busses in a fleet of 1,400 does not solve the problems.

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