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Hillsborough school leaders call on lawmakers to change outdated hazardous walking condition laws

Posted at 6:20 PM, Aug 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 21:11:14-04

Hillsborough County school leaders are calling on lawmakers to change Florida's outdated hazardous walking condition law that could expand busing to thousands of students.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Superintendent Jeff Eakins said the district is calling on lawmakers to change the 1973 Hazardous walking condition statute that they say is outdated.

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Hillsborough Public Schools removed courtesy busing in 2017, which put led to more students walking if they don't live within two miles of campus.

The district wants to propose four steps to make it safer for students:

  1. Overhaul the 1973 law that determines what paths to school are considered hazardous
  2. Consider sidewalk requirements around schools for local governments
  3. Require transportation for all K-12 students who meet the criteria for hazardous walking conditions, not just K-6
  4. Develop a plan to implement changes using a tiered, fiscally responsible approach over time

The district says simply reducing the state's transportation distance from two miles to one-and-a-half miles would increase costs dramatically, but would not solve the problem.

They said in a release that, "there are paths of two miles that are quite safe, but there are also paths of 1/2 mile that are too hazardous walk."

The district said that they currently spend $10 per student on a bus, but the state only reimburses $4, taking money out of the classrooms.

School district leaders plan to meet with state lawmakers to start drafting new legislation, that could help kids across Florida.