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Jackson County schools discuss transportation options

POSTED: January 3, 2009 5:00 a.m.

JEFFERSON  The Jackson County school system's transportation committee has been working since November on finding ways to improve the district's transportation system.

They had three goals in mind at their November and December meetings: adding time to the elementary school day, reducing the amount of time students were on the bus going home and picking up all grade levels in the morning.

However, accomplishing all three goals could prove difficult, the committee noted earlier this month.
"Vicky (Evans, Transportation Coordinator) has done a lot of work since we met last time, and it looks like we're not going to have the flexibility to accomplish everything we wanted to accomplish," Schools
Superintendent Shannon Adams said.

The committee first met in November with principals representing elementary, middle and high schools throughout the county to determine when the school day should begin and end and how to make the system more efficient.

Evans took suggestions from the principals at that meeting and worked to find a way to accommodate everyone while streamlining the system.

Evans told the group that having a dual busing system  which requires bus drivers to pick up one set of students and drop them off at the schools, then go back through their routes to pick up the second set of students  will be hard to implement without adding more drivers or new buses, which the system doesn't plan to do during a budget crunch, Adams said.

"We gave more time to the elementary school and the other (goal) we're going to work on is trying to shorten the routes in the afternoon," Evans said.

Elementary schools that start at 8 a.m. would start at 7:40 under Evans' proposed plan.

"So if you drop at 7:30, which is when you drop now, and school starts at 7:40, we can't get kids through breakfast," said Diane Carr, principal of West Jackson Intermediate School.

The committee will have to consider the amount of instruction time students need and the number of hours teachers can work during the week when deciding on school starting and ending times.

The committee will meet again in January. Parents and Food Service Director Wanda Oliver will collect input from people who may have a different perspective.



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