MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. -- Some Martin County families are learning they may have to find a new way to get their children to and from school next year.
The Martin County School District sent a letter to nearly 2,900 households this week, warning residents that their children’s bus stop may be eliminated starting in August, 2017.
The letters went to anyone who lives within 2 miles of their school, regardless of whether or not they take the bus to school. The letters also went to homes that have previously been provided transportation to school.
98 bus stops could be eliminated, which serve students who live within two miles of their school.
The district is abiding by a change to Florida Statute 1006.23, which went into effect in July, 2015.
In the letter, Superintendent Dr. Laurie Gaylord explained, “The statute changed the qualifying requirements for specific traffic conditions that would allow for state-funded bus transportation for school students and redefined what is considered hazardous walking conditions, eliminating many current bus stops in Martin County.”
“If a child lives within 2 miles of the school, then we do not get reimbursed for that [bus stop] unless it meets that hazardous walking condition.”
Those hazards can include excess traffic, speed limits, lack of sidewalks or a lack of safe place for children to walk that is a specific distance from a roadway.
Gaylord said the letter went to parents this week so they have enough time to make arrangements for their children before August.
She is also looking for input from the community to help find areas that are hazardous for children that the district may not be aware of. Gaylord said if they find areas that are still deemed hazardous according to law, district leaders can work with local agencies to improve the walking conditions and make the areas safe for students.
“Does a student have to walk where the sidewalks ends? There’s no sidewalk? That’s something we need to know about,” Gaylord said.
The letter that was sent to homes also included a survey for families to fill out to explain any hazards in their area. Families can give their feedback by March 30.
Jennifer Hanson is one of the parents who received the letter.
Her 3rd and 5th grade sons live 1 1/2 miles from their school. She’s nervous about them walking to school. “They’re little kids… you know?”
She also worries about other students who may live 2 miles away.
“I just don’t think these little elementary school kids should have to walk 2 miles to school,” Hanson said.
She’s filling out the survey to express her concerns about traffic on the nearby Kanner Highway and construction projects that she feels may be hazardous.