Long bus rides, programs offered at some schools and not others, and not getting your top pick are all elements of Lee County’s Student Assignment program. But now, the district is looking at revising the controversial program.
Benches, better streetlights and safer bus stops: Those are all suggestions throw at the School District of Lee County since the hit-and-run death of Layla Aiken, 8, in Cape Coral.
Among those criticisms, student assignment, more commonly referred to by some as school choice.
“I have a niece who’s a freshman in high school,” Erin Diaz said. “She’s up so early and out to that bus stop and it is dark pitch black dark.”
Diaz, a mom of two children who live in Cape Coral, said at one point student assignment left her driving seven miles to and from the school her children attend.
“I am fortunate to work from home, so I take them and drive them each morning,” Diaz said. “But it’s truly because they would have to get on the bus at 6:42 is their time. And I’m not doing that to my 8 and 10-year-old.
It is because of complaints like that the School District of Lee County is looking to cut half the options for parents. The changes would not be right away. The district hopes to have them in place by the start of the 20202 or 2021 school year.
“What we are in the process of and have been for quite some while is trying to shrink the proximity zones for elementary schools,” said Rob Spicker, assistant director, Media Relations and Public Information at the School District of Lee County. “So you no longer would be picking 16, you’d be down to about 6.”
The district said shrinking those options for elementary schools would impact the number of buses on the road.
“Once we have that in place and have made all those zones smaller, that’s really gonna give us an opportunity to reevaluate start times bus routes throughout really the entire system,” Spicker said.
Still, Diaz said she is not a fan of student assignment at all.
“It’s pretty much you can buy a house anywhere and hope your kids get your choice,” Diaz said.