St. Johns School District reinstate school buses after news investigation into sidewalk safety

The St. Johns County School District announced it is temporarily continuing transportation services to the St. Johns Forest neighborhood after parents expressed safety concerns through an Action News Jax investigation.

The school board initially made the decision to cut buses for this neighborhood at the beginning of the school year, and reaffirmed its decision in October. Transportation Director Alfred Pantano sent an email to St. Johns Forest parents detailing the new walk path their children could take to get to Liberty Pines Academy.

Since a portion of the path is along County Road 2209 near Interstate 9B, parents expressed concern for the safety of students walking near a heavy traffic area.

Related: Parents fight the St. Johns County School Board over bus cuts in their neighborhood

Related: St. Johns County parents express concerns over school bus cuts

The Florida Department of Transportation made the sidewalk larger and added new lights. However, parents said the traffic is still too close to pedestrians in the area.

State law states any student who lives within 2 miles of their school will not be provided transportation services by the school district.

Reporter Elizabeth Pace investigated the possible dangers of this sidewalk for pedestrians and pressed the school board on its decision for this walkway. A district spokesperson has given one statement in response, “In view of pending litigation it is not appropriate for the school district to comment on this issue.”

About a week the Action News Jax investigation, the district sent an email to Liberty Pines Academy parents about the decision to temporarily reinstate buses to the St. Johns Forest neighborhood.

It reads: “The St. Johns County School District is further evaluating the conditions surrounding the CR 2209 sidewalk in light of recent events and residents’ input.  To facilitate that effort, the District will continue transportation services for your student through the end of the 2018-2019 School Year, May 24, 2019. The District reserves the right to terminate bus service thereafter in accordance with applicable law. Thank you for your time and attention.”

Another review will take place before the next school year.