New safety measures are now in place at two schools after the news that hundreds of students will lose their courtesy busing this school year in Hillsborough County.
Parents who live within a two-mile radius of certain Hillsborough County schools will now either have to drive their kids or let them walk and bike to school. The decision to cut courtesy busing will reportedly save the school district millions.
About 7,500 middle school students and high school students will lose courtesy busing district-wide, district officials said.
Newsome High School and Randall Middle School are two of the schools most affected by the loss of courtesy busing. This year, 469 kids at Randall Middle School will have to find another way to school besides a school bus, according to Randall Middle School administrators.
As part of the new safety measures, Hillsborough County Schools has now put in a new sidewalk leading from busy Fishhawk Blvd. all the way to the doors of Randall Middle School, providing a safer path for kids walking to school.
There are also new bike racks at Newsome High School as well as Randall High School, as well as two bright, bold signs warning drivers about kids walking and biking in the area.
This comes after parents told school district administrators they didn't feel safe letting their kids walk or bike. Even with all these changes in place, administrators are still encouraging parents to discuss the right way for their kids to get to class.
"A lot of it is just that family decision of talking with their kids and deciding whether or not they're ready to walk or ride a bike to school," said Claire Mawhinney, principal at Randall High School.
Hillsborough County Schools is also talking with Hillsborough County about extending the school zones in the Fishhawk area, along with adding more streetlights along Fishhawk boulevard.
District leaders are also in talks with the county about possibly adding a traffic signal in front of Randall Middle School.
But parents say it's up to all drivers to protect kids by slowing down and paying attention, especially during the early morning and afternoon hours.
"Honestly, you know it's going to be a community effort to making everybody safe," Hayes said.
School begins in Hillsborough County on August 10.