Florida State Senator proposes massive expansion of 'courtesy busing'

Parents fear dangerous walking routes for students
Posted at 5:53 PM, Aug 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-25 17:55:09-04

For many parents, "courtesy busing" wasn't seen as a free ride to school for their kids, but a way for local school districts to protect kids from having to walk to school through hazardous routes.

Now, even though the hazards remain, that courtesy has been eliminated for many students in Hillsborough and Manatee Counties.

Parents across the Tampa Bay Area have been voicing their concerns about this change, pointing out that they didn't see the service as a "courtesy" since the service is paid for by their tax dollars.

"In my opinion the name 'courtesy' should be changed to 'Common Sense busing,' because it's a common sense issue that we don't want to throw children out on the streets and say good luck getting to school," says Amy Latimer, a Hillsborough County mom who has two kids who lost courtesy busing this year.

She's now petitioning the district to revert to the old rules, which you can see by clicking HERE.

She's also encouraged by a new proposal from a Florida State Senator from Sarasota that would expand courtesy busing to many more students across the state.

The bill proposed by Sen. Greg Steube would reduce the distance of ineligibility for courtesy busing from 2 miles down to 1.5 miles.

If passed, the bill would also strip the age limits currently in place in many counties that restricts who can receive a courtesy ride; the bill proposed that any child from K-12 could ride a bus if their walking conditions are hazardous.

The bill defines what constitutes a "hazardous route" but it also features a powerful parental review clause, requiring a local schools Superintendent to request a "hazardous walking route review" any time a parent asks for one in writing.

The bill, which would apply to all school districts across the state, even the school districts that don't currently have courtesy busing, will be considered by state lawmakers in the next legislative session in 2018.

It's unclear how the state, or those local school districts, would pay for what appears to be a massive expansion of courtesy busing.

You can read the bill for yourself here: