Sheriff Available to Address Transportation Safety Questions at School Board Meeting
"I think we’re concerned right now based on the areas where children have to walk," said Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith, who is not on the meeting's agenda but will be available to answer questions.
The Barrow County Sheriff's Office is working with the county's Roads and Bridges Department as well as the Winder Police Department to address safety concerns as some students become ineligible for bus transportation this school year.
The Barrow County School System has implemented "parental responsibility zones" in which middle and high schoolers who live within 1 1/2 miles by bus route from the school they attend are not eligible for transportation services.
According to the school system, this a cost-saving change, but concerned parents have raised questions about the safety of students walking to and from school.
Sheriff Jud Smith plans to attend Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting.
"I don’t plan on speaking unless I’m asked to speak. I'm just trying to compile some information in case some questions are asked of us," Smith said.
Smith said the school system had not been in contact with the Sheriff's Office about the change in transportation for students within the parental responsibility zones.
"I think we’re concerned right now based on the areas where children have to walk," Smith said. "We’re trying to see what’s going to happen next and what are some quick fixes if any to do so. We’ve got a number of things that we’re concerned with, and I don’t think it’s going to be fixed overnight but it needs to be discussed."
About 150 students in the Apalachee district — those in grades 6 through 12 attending Haymon-Morris Middle, Westside Middle and Apalachee High School — will be affected by the change, Smith said. Students attending Winder-Barrow High School, Russell and Winder-Barrow middle schools will be affected within the Winder City Limits.
Smith said concerns include Daylight Saving Time, which will affect students in middle and high school, whose classes begin at 7:20 a.m. this year, as well as inclement weather and safety while walking to and from school.
The Sheriff's Office has fielded an open records request recently for information on accidents over the past year in the Apalachee district, and Smith said he thinks parents deserve answers from the school system.
"I think it’s going to be interesting tomorrow night, I will say that," Smith added.
Members of the Barrow County Board of Education will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, at the professional development center.
For more information on changes within the school system for the 2012-13 school year, click here.