Parents confront school board over 'unsafe' bus stops


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Parents confront school board over 'unsafe' bus stops

By Matt Grant. CREATED Aug 21, 2012

FORT MYERS - The fight over where your kids' school bus picks them up took center stage at Tuesday's school board meeting.

Around 30 parents confronted the school board upset the school district is now enforcing a long ignored policy of banning buses from picking up kids inside gated communities.

The board will vote on whether to change the gated community policy at their Sept. 11 meeting, along with whether to change the bus stops board member Jeanne Dozier called "hazardous."

"My question to you is what is a child's life worth?," one parent told the board.

An unusually long parade of more than two dozen parents directly confronted board members about the safety of their kids' new bus stops.

"It's a frightening thought," said another parent, "that these kids are standing on these roads and they're in harms way."

"I'm afraid for [my daughter's] life," said another parent. "Every single day."

The parents all said they didn't want their kids waiting for their bus on busy roads like Daniels, Pine Island, and Corkscrew outside of their mostly gated communities.

"They have to wait in a ditch," said one parent, "because we have no sidewalks and no shelter."

"Build your own sidewalks," said board member Tom Scott, "if that's going to solve your problems."

Scott's lone vote killed a proposal put forth by board member Jane Kuckel to temporarily change the bus stops back to how they were last year.

Scott says the district must follow its own policy which doesn't let buses go into gated communities.

That policy will be debated and voted on at the next board meeting.

"One percent of the population," said Scott, "cannot change the rules this board operates."

His comments led some parents to turn their back and walk out of the meeting.

"I don't want my child to be the fatality," said one parent in tears, "to be the catalyst to change this decision."

Scott did join Dozier, Kuckel and Fischer in asking the superintendent to look into safer alternatives for eight problem bus stops.

"I think we need to look at each one of these stops," said Dozier, "and make a determination."

"We're going to review each and every one of these circumstances," said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke. "And we'll be bringing recommendations to the board very shortly."

For now the bus stops will stay as they are.

Board member Don Armstrong could not attend Tuesday's board meeting. If he had been there, he says he would have provided the crucial extra vote needed to temporarily change the bus stops back to how they were last year.

In his absence, the board needed a "super majority" of four votes.

Matt Grant