School Transportation Working Group moves to school district

January 2019 – From April 2015 through December 2018, the MPO supported an interagency School Transportation Working Group. The numerous collaborations lead to improvements on city, county and state-owned roadways near schools including Benito, Sulfur Springs, Chamberlain, Farnell, Pride, FishHawk, and Newsome. The MPO and School Transportation Working Group also supported safety education and outreach at events like Parent University Choice Expo and Back to School Bash. More improvements and collaboration are on the way as school district staff, engineers, and planners will continue the work with the Florida Department of Transportation’s Community Traffic Safety Team (CTST), the school district’s Circulation Committee, and the School Board’s Transportation Team.

Some STWG comments from their final meeting hosted by the MPO:

Jim Beekman, General Manager, Transportation, Hillsborough County Public Schools:  Overall, the most significant accomplishment is the inter-agency collaboration. Silos have been reduced significantly. In the beginning, agencies were territorial, but now we all realize that we are working towards the same goal – safety of our citizens/kids. Thank you!

William Porth, Traffic Safety Coordinator, City of Tampa:  A great working relationship which should live on through the CTST. The MPO School Safety study is a great help to prioritize our work in the City of Tampa. Thanks for all the work by the MPO to keep the wheels turning on the STWG.

Emily Hinsdale, Sidewalk Stompers:  STWG members visited our little walk to school program at our local elementary school last year. Thanks to the support and guidance of STWG members, our program is now a 501(c)3, working with 5 schools, and growing. Thank you for the encouragement for a citizen-led, non-governmental program to get more students walking safely to school.

Deborah Sickman, St. Joseph’s Children’s Wellness and Safety Center:  The STWG afforded Safe Kids Greater Tampa, led by St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, the opportunity to beta-test a global Star Ratings 4 School app utilizing the iRap (International Road Assessment Program). In a vision of a world where all children travel safely to and from school, being one of 200 schools on 5 continents to test this shows STWG’s proactive and leading role in addressing safety concerns for the students and families of Hillsborough County.

Amber Dickerson, Manager, Planning and Siting, Hillsborough County Public Schools:  The School Circulation Committee was birthed out of STWG and has been a total success. The School Traffic Safety Study has proven to be an awesome resource for the District’s Circulation Committee. Ease of collaboration between agencies to solve daily issues has been greatly appreciated and provides resolutions to parent concerns.

Krista Nalls, St. Joseph’s Children’s Wellness and Safety Center:  Through the School Transportation Working Group, our center, was able to form relationships with Hillsborough County Public School personnel and Transportation Services. We began a partnership to bring on-bike pedestrian and bicycle safety training to the students in Hillsborough County. Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, our goal was to educate all elementary students in the 150 plus elementary schools and all 6th grade students in the 50 plus middles schools, in the next three years. With the help of FDOT, through the Safe Routes to School grant, five trailers and 143 bicycles were purchased. 

Brita Brita Wilkins Lincoln, Advocacy Chair, Hillsborough County Council PTA/PTSA:  For the Parent Teacher Association/Parent Student Teacher Association, STWG has been a venue where parents can voice their concerns about bussing. We also have appreciated being in a group with so many organizations to collaborate with and benefit from.  

Robert Cox, Magnet Programs Supervisor:  It has been great inviting MPO to our school events and has led to giving the community information on transportation across the district.[Editors note: You can still invite the MPO any time!] 

Cindy Stuart, School Board Member,  District 3, STWG Chair:  Wow! Almost 3 years since its inception – the committee work of this School Transportation Working Group (STWG) is finalized. I am honored to have chaired this committee and been able to see the connections of all these partners over our time together. I can’t thank enough Lisa Kramer Silva, Gena Torres, and Beth Alden for their dedication and enthusiasm about our work for schools! Thank you MPO for believing that there was work to do and funding our efforts. Finally, thank you to Kevin O’Hare for fighting for a School Board Member to serve on this board. Lisa Montelione – your confidence in Kevin’s work helped push this forward! We will continue the work in 3 different forums: the new HCPS transportation committee, the new HCPS site circulation committee, and CTST – all of these meetings are open to the public and we welcome your input and feedback as we continue to make Hillsborough County better for all of our residents.

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