StarMetro may assist with later school times

Courtesy of FAMU

Commissioner Scott Maddox discussed a possible way to have StarMetro assist with the later high school start times Wednesday at the city commissioners meeting.

This is following Tuesday’s Leon County School Board meeting that resulted in the approval of later school times for high school students who depend on their own transportation to school.

This option will create an hour difference that starts classes at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 2:50 p.m. for students with individual access to transportation. For those students, who rely on busing, will remain at the regular scheduled time of 7:30 a.m. and ending at 1:50 p.m. Administrators claim that these are only the beginning steps of the plan.

Maddox brought the discussion to the table explaining that the problem lies for children who depend on the school bus system, and will not be granted the option of a later start time. He suggested collaboration with StarMetro to assist with providing transportation to those students who rely on the school bus.

"StarMetro is a safe way for students to get to school and has already served for transportation to all Leon County High Schools except for Chiles High School. This gives every student the option to take advantage of the later class time,” Maddox said.

Maddox believes that many students on the south side will not be able to take advantage of this opportunity like those students on the north side. However, if StarMetro agrees to assist with transportation, a new route will have to be mapped for Chiles High School which may result in money being allocated into the plan.

Mayor Andrew Gillum is an advocate for the plan and believes that there is a way to work out a system for students, but is worried that the plan may need financial assistance the city can’t provide.

"I would be happy to see something like what we negotiated with FAMU or FSU in regards to student paying a subsidized rate, but I would not be in a position to make an official decision today that relates to a cost that we don’t know for sure,” Gillum stated.

Commissioner Gil Ziffer agreed with Maddox on using the city buses to help give every student the same opportunity and believes that the cost may not be as expensive as they think.

“We have a bus system that, on many levels is underutilized, and I think there’s a possibility to find out what that cost is because it may be less than what we think … It’s up to us to do whatever we can to give opportunities for anyone in our community on an equal level,” Ziffer said.

The board unanimously voted to approve the motion to move to forward with finding a way to accommodate the later start times. Leon County School Board will now have to construct an agreement that determines whether or not they will need financing to support the future plans.