TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A bill being considered by the Florida Legislature would extend to three miles the school bus eligibility threshold for middle and high school students.
The legislation, which was referred to an education committee on Tuesday, would also allow school districts to place ads on the outside of their buses.
Currently, middle and high school students in Florida who live farther than two miles from school are eligible for bus service, which is the same walking distance as for elementary students.
While the new bill would increase the walking distance to three miles for secondary students, it would also allow secondary students who live inside that threshold to be eligible for transportation if it’s determined that they have hazardous walking conditions to school. That provision currently only applies to elementary students.
Mike Connors, president of the Florida Association for Pupil Transportation, said that with the proposed change in hazardous walking conditions policy, the legislation might end up putting more students on the bus than it takes off.
Connors also noted that school districts would probably be reluctant to increase their walking distances to three miles for secondary students. “Parents are not going to like that,” he said.
Under the advertising portion of the legislation, districts could place ads from one business per bus. Up to 5 percent of the fee collected could be used to pay advertising agency costs, and the remainder would be used for school transportation purposes.
The proposal creates a safety concern for some pupil transportation officials.
“As a state organization, we’re still opposed to putting any advertising on the outside of the school bus,” Connors said, noting that it could be a dangerous distraction for other motorists. “We can’t afford to have that happen around a school bus — someone going through a stop arm and hitting a kid.”