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FILE- In this Oct. 23, 2018, file photo, students walk on the campus of Miami Dade College, in Miami. The nine companies and organizations tasked with servicing the accounts of the nation’s 30 million student loan borrowers repeatedly failed to do their jobs properly over a period of years and their regulator neglected to hold them responsible, a new report finds. The report released Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, by the Department of Education’s independent Inspector General’s office shows some borrowers weren’t getting the guidance and protection they needed as they sought the best plan for paying off their student loans. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
FILE- In this Oct. 23, 2018, file photo, students walk on the campus of Miami Dade College, in Miami. The nine companies and organizations tasked with servicing the accounts of the nation’s 30 million student loan borrowers repeatedly failed to do their jobs properly over a period of years and their regulator neglected to hold them responsible, a new report finds. The report released Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, by the Department of Education’s independent Inspector General’s office shows some borrowers weren’t getting the guidance and protection they needed as they sought the best plan for paying off their student loans. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Southwest Florida schools allowing students to expand their choice of schools

Your Southwest Florida students are just now back from winter break, but it’s already time to start thinking about next year.

The school districts say a benefit of school choice is giving students the best option to find the best school for them, and in some cases that can be a career-focused academy.

But, the superintendent has proposed changes to the process after many parents expressed safety concerns with early morning bus routes.

“Walking out of the house at 5 a.m to get to the bus stop, you know it’s cold, it’s dark, anything can happen,” said San Carlos Park resident, Caren Pieterse.

Pieterse says she knows what school choice is like.

“You’re supposed to mark the three schools of your choice…I don’t agree with it,” said Pieterse.

To avoid sending her son across town to school, she enrolled him in the county’s virtual school.

“It was awesome, they provided each student with a chrome book and he had access to all the teachers from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” said Pieterse.

Her concerns about the long bus rides early in the morning echo the concerns of many other parents, who asked the school board for changes to the system following the deaths of Alaina Tamplin and Layla Aiken.

“We are constantly evaluating the safety of our routes and listening to drivers on what they’re seeing, listening to parent feedback,” said Rob Spicker of the Lee County School District.

Feedback that the district is looking to limit the number of Elementary Schools you can choose from.

“We are hiring a consultant so we can shrink those zones for our elementary schools and getting it down to five or six,” said Spicker.

The hope is that the consultant can help narrow down those choices fairly and in time for the open enrollment period in 2022.

These forms are not first-come, first-serve. If you fill one out for your child, they will be entered into a lottery so everyone has an equal chance of getting their top choice.

The deadline to submit is Feb. 28.

Collier County open enrollment begins today, you can find the link to that form here.

Lee County’s open enrollment begins Monday, Jan 13. You can find the link to that form here.

Charlotte County’s open enrollment begins in February. You can find the link to that form here.

Reporter:Janae Muchmore
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