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Thursday, Sep 21, 2017
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School buses suffer few delays during RNC

TAMPA - Downtown gridlock did not deter school buses that serve campuses closest to the Republican National Convention epicenter, officials say. "The RNC road closures did not cause any significant delays," said Linda Cobbe, spokeswoman for Hillsborough County's public schools. "We're still experiencing some second-week-of-school issues, which are expected." Buses arrived on time again Thursday morning at Plant High, Wilson Middle and Gorrie Elementary schools. One bus arrived about an hour late at Wilson on Wednesday morning, Cobbe said, but the delay was not related to traffic volume or detours. On Tuesday three Wilson students did not attend school because their parents were worried about RNC traffic and protesters, the spokeswoman said.
"We were pleased there were only three that didn't show up," Cobbe said. The school district urged parents to allow their children to ride buses this week, but some were apprehensive. "I was very hesitant to send them on the bus; worried about their safety, seeing crazy protestors," said Harbour Island resident Ashley Marchetti, who shuttled her children to and from Gorrie Elementary on Tuesday and Wednesday. "But it hasn't been bad." On Thursday she let her children ride the bus to the school, located on DeLeon Street at South Boulevard. "It was great, right on time" she said Thursday afternoon. "We all agreed that the buses were great this week and last week in preparation for the RNC." The district added an RNC information link to its homepage at www.sdhc.k12.fl.us that provided status reports on buses traveling near the RNC. "We've also been tweeting and have a Facebook page," Cobbe said. The Facebook page — HillsboroughSch — launched before the beginning of fall term and had more than 4,000 "likes" by Thursday. Many visits to the new Facebook page were related to worries about Isaac, a storm that once appeared to have Florida in its sights. "We had lot of activity on the weekend and Monday," Cobbe said. "People were looking to find out if we were going to close school." Hillsborough and many surrounding counties did cancel Monday classes. District personnel at downtown's Raymond O. Shelton School Administrative Center worked from satellite locations this week. Protective film was applied to that downtown building to guard against it becoming a target of protestors, but its best protection came in another form. "Law enforcement is using the cafeteria, so they've got hundreds of law enforcement officers around at all times," Cobbe said.

gwilkens@tampatrib.com (813) 259-8443
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