Hernando County neighborhood decided to lock a gate that
gave students access to their schools. The gate is still
open, but parents wonder how long the route to the schools
will be available.
Students who live in the Brookridge
community in Brooksville hurry through gates in the back of
their neighborhood to get to school at Central High, West
Hernando Middle and Pine Grove Elementary.
Today was supposed to be the first day
that the children would have to find another route to get to
The Brookridge community board voted
last month to lock the gates, saying that would help
crime. Currently the gates are open only while students are
going to and from school. A security guard drives by while
the gate is open. The board says it does not have the money
or manpower to open and close the gates just for students.
"There are ways around spending
$12,000 a year to keep this gate open. They don't need it
manned. We have a crossing guard that works for the
sheriff's department. We have the protection there, you have
the parent there," said Dwayne Ross, one of the
The board did not have a comment,
other than stating it has agreed to extend the gate closing
deadline to October 15.
The statement from the community also
states that the board is disappointed with the Hernando
County School Board, school district transportation division
and Hernando County Sheriff's Office for not being
responsive to this issue. The board says it will consult its
attorneys and might look in to using volunteers for a
Some parents said the board is not
willing to allow the students access to the schools via the
"They wanted us to cool down,
well they never did anything so we're not going to stop.
That gate needs to stay open," said Mike Dwyer, a
Another parent says the gate issue is
part of the board's plan to make the community a development
for residents who are 55 and older only.
"If they close the back gate a
lot of parents are going to get upset," said Stephenie
Baldwin, another parent. "Obviously maybe some are
going to move which they are hoping, which is going to make
it even more easy for them to make it a 55."
If the gate remains closed, then the
students will have to walk to the front of the development,
west on State Road 50, to Sunshine Grove Road, then north to
Ken Austin Parkway, and then east to the schools. So,
instead of walking 12 yards through the gate, they will have
to walk about six miles to their schools.
The school board will not assign a bus
for the students, because the transportation department
determines distance to a school as the crow flies, not by
the route via road.