District decides to not relocate Portico bus stop to well-lit area inside community

Parents in the Portico Community in Buckingham are nervous every time their kids walk out to a dark bus stop. They want something done right away – before a child gets hit by one of the cars that whiz by.

Every morning around 4:50, Raven Ferrell and her mom walk outside of their Portico neighborhood to wait at her school bus stop along Buckingham Road.

“It is dark on this side with a lot of bushes,” Ferrell said. “And I feel like something could be in the bushes…”

As the morning goes on, the road becomes busier, which concerns Foday Kargbo when taking his second-grade daughter to the bus.

“The bus stops right in the middle of the street and we have to cross with the kids over there,” Kargbo said.

That is why the Portico Property Owners Association proposed a plan to create a bus depot in a well-lit location inside the community. The association also offered to wave any damage fees from buses entering and exiting the property.

Tocha Cope, who lives in the community and also takes her daughter to the bus stop at 4:50 a.m., feels that the owners of the association care about the safety of her kids.

“There’s not many associations or communities that would take a stance for their children and their safety,” Cope said.

But on Monday, Cope and the Portico parents received an email, which states the district would not relocate the stop. Cope said she still has hope the district will revisit its decision. She worries there will be another tragedy.

“We’ve already had two beautiful angels to leave our county,” Cope said, “because they were at their bus stop waiting for their bus.”

The district was not able to give a response after several attempts Wednesday.

Rob Spicker, assistant director of Media Relations and Public Information at the School District of Lee County, said in a statement Thursday morning:

In the Board Policy 7.02 on Student Transportation you will find this paragraph:
Students living within private gated residential developments or on private roads shall be required to use a bus stop on a public road near their developments. Bus stops may be established inside a “gated community” if it is determined by the Transportation Department that there are no safe locations close to the entrance or exit of such “gated community” to establish a safe school bus stop.

Reporter:Breana Ross
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