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School buses return to the roads Monday
Residents should allot extra time for traveling
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Hall County residents should leave plenty of extra time to get to work Monday morning.

Both county and city schools are going back into session bright and early, bringing with them close to 300 school buses, numerous speed zones and even more young drivers with brand new licenses.

Law enforcement officers will be present at every school and will be monitoring traffic flow, especially in areas around Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, the North Hall schools and West Hall Middle School.

"We'll also be at Gainesville High School and Wood's Mill," said Kevin Holbrook, public information officer for the Gainesville Police Department. "With Fair Street that adds a lot more traffic to that area."

Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School, which is on the Wood's Mill campus for the next two years, also brings changes to the city schools' bus schedule.

"Fair Street has always had a lot of walkers who live in the Lanier Terrace Apartments. We think we've got enough space to accommodate those new riders," said Jerry Castleberry, Gainesville City Schools' transportation director. "Another change is the after-school program. Those kids used to just walk down the hill to the Boys & Girls Clubs. We're going to add responsibilities to another bus to transport them."

Castleberry foresees some fuel savings with Fair Street now being across the street from the transportation department.

He said commuters should be aware that buses for city schools will be running on a slightly different schedule this year. Gainesville Middle will be starting five minutes earlier and getting out 15 minutes later. Elementary schools will start at 7:25 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m.

Hall County schools, however, will see no major schedule changes. Law enforcement will be making sure kids get to school safely.

Col. Jeff Strickland, chief deputy with the Hall County Sheriff's Office, said deputies will be out in force for the first two weeks of school, patrolling traffic areas and helping pedestrians to cross roads.

Hall County Transportation Supervisor Mike Garner said some bus routes had to be tweaked to handle new people coming into the school attendance zones.

He said the most important thing to remember about buses running is to not pass them when they are stopping to pick up or drop off students.

"We ask drivers to be especially cautious, especially in the morning," Garner said. "There are going to be little kids and they're going to be excited for school."

Passing buses that are stopped is just as illegal speeding in a school zone, both of which can result in fines of up to $1,000, Holbrook said.

"You do have to stop unless it's a divided highway with a median separating it," he said.

This means drivers on both sides of a four-lane highway with a turning lane in the middle have to stop for school buses.

Garner also had some tips for new bus riders.
"Don't push, don't hurry, don't run to the bus," he said.

 

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