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East County Friday, Apr. 5, 2019 8 months ago

Could public transit help Manatee County School District?

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County, school district officials discuss ways to improve traffic.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Two county leaders suggest there may be some creative solutions to improve traffic conditions in Manatee County.

During a Council of Governments meeting April 4, Manatee County Commissioner Misty Servia and Manatee County School Board member Scott Hopes said the county and district should work together to come up with out-of-the-box ways to save money on transportation costs and reduce congestion on roadways.

Hopes said such ideas could include using public transit as a means to shuttle high school students from a hub location, where students gather to be bused to school, rather than using the district’s school buses.

Hopes said the district could assign students to the schools closest to them.

“How do we create community-centric schools?” Hope said.

Servia suggested the school district offer incentives to school employees who live close to the schools at which they work.

“We don’t have that yet but we could create carpools and van pools,” Servia said. “There are federal and state dollars available for that.”

She said the district might offer busing to students who live closer than 2 miles from their assigned school. Currently, students less than 2 miles from their school must find their own transportation to school.

She said the district also could add restrictions on which students can drive to school — seniors only, for example.

School District of Manatee County Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said the school district’s costs for transporting students is about $14 million compared with the the $7 million it gets in state funding.

“We know transportation is a problem,” Saunders said. “We do need to make our transportation more effective. Some of the attendance pockets were designed a long time ago.”

Officials said they would have to consider how programs, like public transit, are funded to determine whether such ideas are plausible.

The Council of Governments meeting brings together officials from the school district, Manatee County, the town of Longboat Key and the cities of Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Palmetto and Holmes Beach.

high school students from a hub location, where students gather to be bused to school, rather than using the district's school buses. 

Hopes said the district could assign students to the schools closest to them.

“How do we create community-centric schools?” Hope said.

Servia suggested the School District offer incentives to school employees who live close to the schools at which they work.

“We don’t have that yet but we could create carpools and van pools,” Servia said. “There are federal and state dollars available for that.”

She said the district might offer busing to students who live closer than 2 miles from their assigned school. Currently, students less than 2 miles from their school must find their own transportation to school.

She said the district also could add restrictions on which students can drive to school — seniors only, for example.

School District of Manatee County Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said the school district’s costs for transporting students is about $14 million compared with the the $7 million it gets in state funding. 

“We know transportation is a problem,” Saunders said. “We do need to make our transportation more effective. Some of the attendance pockets were designed a long time ago. The transportation department is charged with what can we control. It takes time to put (these things) into effect.”

Officials said they would have to consider how programs, like public transit, are funded to determine whether such ideas are plausible.

The Council of Governments meeting brings together officials from the school district, Manatee County, the Town of Longboat Key and the cities of Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Palmetto and Holmes Beach.

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