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Commissioners' Candid School Bus Comments Caught on Camera

Dunedin TV filming stopped, but live microphones picked up on a brief dialogue between city leaders frustrated over a Pinellas County School Board decision to stop busing elementary students across State Road 580.

A Pinellas County School Board plan to stop busing elementary students got commissioners riled during Thursday's city meeting.

Officials spent an hour picking apart a School Board plan that will leave about 50 San Jose Elementary students having to cross busy State Road 580, where Skinner Boulevard, Main Street and Bass Boulevard all converge.

After an hour-long hearing, during which commissioners called it "crazy" and "bureaucratic silliness," they immediately took a five-minute break.

Dunedin TV filming stopped, but live microphones picked up on a brief dialogue between city leaders Mayor Dave Eggers and Commissioners Ron Barnette, Julie Scales and Heather Gracy.

The following can be heard on Dunedin TV:

Barnette: ... I bet the only thing they told the board is "We've cut out 500 buses around the county."

Eggers: Well, you know, it really becomes an efficiency game for the board. That's all it is. And really at the end of the run, the taxpayers are paying the same thing. It's either our taxpayers or you know—

Barnette: [inaudible]

Eggers: That's really the weird thing is we have three elementary schools plus a fundamental school and we have to have kids that have to cross 580. I mean it's just, you should be like, 'I mean, wow.' I and I know that those situations exist all over the county, not just here.

Barnette: No but—

Eggers: It's just amazing the rules and regs that they have.

Barnette: (Laughter) That was a good way that you put it: "You did this with this and so you make them go over here." That's the [inaudible] solution.

Eggers: Yeah, I liked your comment, Commissioner Scales, about "What about all these problems we're having with schools and safety and everything, and"— (Laughter ...)

Scales: Kinda like, yeah, let's send the kids across, ya know—

Eggers: (...Laughter) 580!

Scales: I mean, it really is just like—

Gracy: It's insane.

Scales: And that software! Would you trust a hand-drawn map?!

Dave Eggers: And they said they were going to be changing the system next year.

Previous Coverage:

  • City 'Fights' for Elementary Students Crossing State Road 580
  • Students' Walk to San Jose Elementary Could Cross Five-Lane Highway

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Melissa Johnson January 16, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Rt. 580 and that intersection is very busy, Wow qould you chance having an innocent elementary or middle school child life be taken by the bd rules. I don't get it! Come on.
Michael J. Kovac January 16, 2013 at 03:22 PM
Well the dialogue is kinda cryptic you can't tell what they mean. Safety is an issue with the kids and they seem not too concerned with them.
Katie Dolac January 16, 2013 at 03:54 PM
The Commissioners were extremely concerned for the safety of the children. Here's the story about what happened during the meeting: http://dunedin.patch.com/articles/city-to-fight-for-elementary-students-crossing-state-road-580 These comments were picked up on a live mic after they all decided to fight against the Pinellas County School Board decision.

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