0318SCHOOLSHear Superintendent Steven Ballowe talk about cuts in education funding in the Gainesville school system.
Earlier this month, the board asked school officials to look at the possibility of a raised crosswalk in the front parking lot at Enota, as a way to help with pedestrian traffic during morning drop-off and afternoon pickup of students.
At that time, Principal Sally Meadors and Keith Vincent, the district’s maintenance and transportation director, talked about some changes that had been made to the parking lot and pickup/drop-off area behind the school and near the gymnasium.
Parents had complained about slow-moving traffic and risks to pedestrians on East Enota Avenue and outside the school after the front parking lot was closed late last year to all traffic except buses during pickup and drop-off.
Meadors presented a report Monday night to the board on the traffic situation, including a change to allow parents to drop off their child in the front drive after 7:35 a.m.
"The last bus usually departs at 7:30 a.m.," she said.
Changes that included designated parking areas for staff and parents escorting their children into the building are "working well," she said.
Vincent told the board that the wait time for motorists traveling from Riverside Drive to the school is about two minutes, and travel through the school during those busy times is another two minutes.
Board member Willie Mitchell praised efforts by Vincent and Meadors.
"It’s great work that you did," he said.
The board plans to revisit the issue in May.
A group of bus drivers wearing badges that said "Bus Drivers Care" showed at the meeting to thank school officials for addressing traffic and safety concerns at Enota.
They handed board members a letter addressed to The Times and signed by 35 drivers. Driver Janet E. Smith read the letter on their behalf.
"When the children are loading and unloading from the bus, we truly appreciate the efforts of the teachers and administration at all schools that keep the car traffic separate from the bus traffic," the letter states.
In other business, the board:
Heard from finance chief Janet Allison on the state legislature’s proposed car tag exemption. She said that a full exemption would cost the school district about $1.2 million. The proposed constitutional amendment would remove half the tax, which is a deductible item on federal tax returns, on "qualified motor vehicles" beginning July 1, 2009, and all of the tax "for each 12-month period thereafter," according to the House resolution.
The "Property Tax Reform Amendment" does say, however, that the state would provide "local government assistance grants" to governmental bodies "to offset revenue loss subject to such limitations as may be imposed by the General Assembly."
Voted to put off discussion of a new ethics code at the request of board member Sammy Smith, who was tapped by the board to draw up one. Smith said he preferred to wait to see the outcome of several pieces of state legislation on the matter.
Heard a request from Center Point, a nonprofit youth-development organization based across from Gainesville High School, for $17,000 toward its mentoring program next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
Recognized Robert Mansfield Jennings and his teacher, Lara Freeman, as Gainesville High School’s winners in the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition Program. To earn that honor, Jennings attained the highest score on the SAT in his school, as well as was in the top 10 percent or among the top 10 students of his class based on grade-point average.