Lack of sidewalks near Windermere High School concerns parents

County officials say they'll look into making improvements

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Thousands of students are getting ready for the first day of school at the new Windermere High School, but some parents who live near campus are concerned about their children's safety while they walk to school.

The sidewalk on Overstreet Road just ends and there is about a quarter-mile stretch of emptiness until it picks back up near Ficquette Road.

"Somebody is going to get hurt," concerned parent Ashley Kruse said.

Kruse told News 6 she lives 1.9 miles from the new Windermere High School, according to the Orange County school district. She said that means her 14-year-old son can't ride the school bus because they live within 2 miles of campus.

"It's frustrating that the way they take the stance that they're just going to measure and make this decision. It seems silly to me," Kruse said.

Kruse said she is working with the school district to get her son on a bus. But this got her looking into the path her son would have to take to walk to and from school everyday.

She said it is a 40 minute walk each way. She added that there is a stretch on Overstreet Road where there aren't any sidewalks or street lighting.

"There's cars coming at you. There's cars behind you. There's no sidewalks for majority of it," she said.

Kruse estimated dozens of students who live in neighborhoods that are too close to the school will walk this path. She is worried about their safety.

"Heat, sun, it's dark in the morning. It's blazing sun ... I know they may hold them in the afternoon if there's a thunderstorm, but what if another pops up on this 40-minute walk home?" she said.

Kruse reached out to News 6 to get results. We found out Orange County officials were not aware of the issue. After we brought it to their attention, we're told the county will look into installing a new sidewalk.

The school district added that officials will work with the county to keep students safe.

There is no timeline on when the county could start working on the sidewalk.

OCPS released the following statement regarding student safety and busing students who live too close to their designated schools:

Orange County Public Schools takes the safety of all children very seriously. The district follows Florida State Statute (F.S. 1006.23) which requires busing for students living 2 miles or more from the school. If a hazardous condition exists within 2 miles per Florida state statute then school districts provide what is called hazardous busing. The district has followed the law, and in this case, there is no hazardous condition as described in the Florida statute. The district does allow additional students on buses if available seats are determined. If ridership is below bus capacity then students who have requested bus service are considered.

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