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HCPS publishes minutes of School Board meetings after Board approval. Although the online minutes do not include signatures, citizens may arrange to review the official documents by completing a public records request with the Communications Department.

MINUTES
SCHOOL BOARD OF HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA
901 E. Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The School Board of Hillsborough County, Florida, met in workshop session September 27, 2016, at 9 a.m., in the Board Auditorium, 901 East Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, with Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Board Members Doretha W. Edgecomb, April Griffin, Sally Harris, Melissa Snively, Cindy Stuart, and Susan Valdes present.  Chair Griffin presided.

Members Absent:  Carol Kurdell

Others present:

District Attorney – Jeff Gibson
School Board Attorney – Jim Porter 

Chief of Staff – Alberto Vázquez, Ed.D.
Chief of Schools, Administration – Harrison Peters 

Assistant Superintendents/Division Chiefs:
            Academic Support and Federal Programs – Tracye Brown
            Business – Gretchen Saunders
            Human Resources – Stephanie Woodford
            Leadership and Professional Development – Tricia McManus
            Operations – Chris Farkas

Chief Community Relations Officer – T.G. Taylor
External Communications Manager – Tanya Arja
Senior Administrative Secretary (Recording) – Patti McBride

News Media Representatives:
            Tampa Bay Times – Marlene Sokol 

Approximately 18 people were in the audience, including other school district personnel. 

Chair Griffin called the workshop to order at 9:16 a.m., and made brief remarks regarding the workshop. 

(1)

Information Regarding Transportation (Operations Division)

 

This workshop was held to provide information and clarification on courtesy busing, and future bus purchases.

 

Chris Farkas made brief remarks regarding bus purchases, courtesy busing, "safe ride” to school, TBARTA (Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority), and transportation working group.  He introduced Jamie Warrington, Manager of Training/Safety for Transportation.

 

Jim Beekman, General Manager – Transportation, provided a Power Point presentation – discussion   included:

  • Bus purchase for 2015-16 – 200 buses purchased from three vendors
  • Bus purchase proposal for 2016-17– purchase buses again from same three vendors; file for state grant money from Florida Department of Agriculture (first-come/first served) to help offset costs for propane buses – looking at additional purchase of 40 propane buses
  • Hazardous walking vs. courtesy busing to include:
    • What constitutes hazardous walking by Florida Statutes
    • State funded busing includes students who reside more than two miles from their assigned school; funding for elementary students through grade 6 that meet hazardous conditions
    • Distributed hazardous walking handouts: 2016 Florida Statutes, Florida Department of Education Site Review Checklist, and the district’s bus stop change/safety review request form.
    • Courtesy busing (non-funded transportation) – Transpiration for students who live within two miles of their assigned school; the state allows districts to identify middle/high school students as hazardous based on same criteria as elementary, but does not provide funding; funds for courtesy busing comes directly from budget (fund 101 operational dollars).
    • Florida Administrative Codes - 6A-3.001 Basic Principles for Transportation of Students; 6A-3.0121 – Responsibility of School District and Parents or Guardians for Students Who Are Transported at Public Expense.
    • Middle/High School Courtesy Riders – Currently, 8,610 middle/high school students that live within two miles of assigned school receive bus transportation without funding;  loss of FTE ($3,497,084.70). Proposed identifying current middle/high school areas that no longer meet criteria for hazardous conditions by the end of 2016-2017 school year and send students letters of notification ending service beginning the 2017-2018 school year.
    • Elementary School Courtesy Riders – Currently, 4,153 elementary school student live within two miles of their assigned school receive bus transportation without funding; loss of FTE ($1,687,239.31).  Proposed identifying current elementary areas that no longer meet criteria for hazardous conditions by the end of the 2016-17 school year and send students letters of notification ending service beginning the 2018-2019 school year. 
  • New process for hazardous walking – going forward to include:
    • Transportation will be primary agency to identify/verify hazardous conditions.
    • The District Safety Office will be the appeal source for parents who are initially denied by Transportation.
    • A web-based request form to request a location be looked at will be located on the Transportation and District Safety Office websites.
    • A shared drive between the District Safety Office and Transportation has already been established to track hazardous areas that have been reviewed to ensure both departments have access to all documentation.
    • Once hazard has been remedied, Transportation will notify the affected parents (students) giving them a date for end of services.  Date shall be approved by the Superintendent prior to notification of parents.

 

There was general discussion on courtesy busing, hazardous conditions, and bus purchases to include:

 

  • Identifying current hazardous walking conditions/corrections (i.e. sidewalks, other agencies involvement).
  • Reaction from parents; increase of traffic around schools; teachers having to work the traffic lines at schools (loss of instructional time) -- look at traffic flows at schools to see what can be managed.
  • Hillsborough County Public Schools offers more courtesy busing compared to other districts
  • Majority of cost comes from the general fund (less money for the schools).
  • Verification (inspection) of every courtesy bus stop serving schools, other transportation strategies (i.e. private transportation companies for a fee, use of Office of Supplier Diversity (OSD) vendors) – accommodating families that cannot afford to pay.
  • Reason for most courtesy riders and what areas are most affected.
  • Create a communication plan to involve the community – communicate effectively financial strain on the district. 
  • Hold to spirit of inclusion, not return to segregated school system
  • Talking points from the Communications Department
  • Purchasing buses from all three vendors as last year should help get new buses into service quicker, allowing transportation to get non-air conditioned buses and older buses off the road sooner.
  • Evaluate bus maintenance data (repairs/days out of service, fuel economy, cost to operate, mileage); as well as survey input from drivers and students regarding new buses they may have drove/rode.
  • Not looking at eliminating any school bus drivers, we are looking to absorb shortage of drivers, buses running more on time.
  • Keeping up with grant opportunities to purchase buses – hope to purchase more propane buses than diesel (environment/fuel efficiency). Working with transportation on infrastructure for propane buses.
  • Software to help with routing and planning (maximize bus drivers time).
  • Recommendation for bus purchase scheduled for October 4 board meeting.
  • Safety is the number one priority.
  • Being fiscally responsible for dollars in the classroom.
  • Continual communications plan moving forward and plan to manage expectations.

 

Chair Griffin thanked everyone for the transportation update, and reminded everyone of the evening’s (6 p.m.) transportation town hall meeting at Middleton High School (September 27, 2016).

With no further discussion, the workshop adjourned at 11:04 a.m.  (Audio recording on file.)

HCPS publishes minutes of School Board meetings after Board approval. Although the online minutes do not include signatures, citizens may arrange to review the official documents by completing a public records request with the Communications Department.

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