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Letter to the Editor: Barrow County School System Changes are Mind Blowing

A Bethlehem resident says her sixth-grader can no longer ride a bus to and from school because the family lives too close to the school.

Hello,

I am a concerned parent and resident of Barrow County, I have resided for the past three years in Bethlehem. My children are 7 and 11 years of age. My youngest is a current student at , my oldest will go to this year. For the most part I have had no complaints about the education they have provided thus far. However, this year has absolutely blown my mind with all the changes.

I was appalled at the decision to , regardless of what other counties are doing, this is a decision that is not in the best interest of our children.

I spoke at that time, around May, with Dr. Wanda Creel. She had no news to provide me that was acceptable. I understand the decision was based on our lack of funds and the current debt … but this “solution” that will reduce the debt by approximately $450,000 per year will effectively put our debt at zero in 22 years.

I can do nothing, again about this decision. I am a working parent, with a full time job. I have no family in this state to help. I have had to employ some assistance with my neighbor to help with the new school hours that have also been put into effect. Now my elementary school child will not get out of school until 3:30 p.m., which means she starts later as well. I have to be at work in Athens at 8 a.m., a full 30 minutes before school even starts. So in order to get her to school, I can no longer take her, as I have in the past, but leave her with my neighbor to ride the bus.

Today I learned that my other child, who will go to 6th grade this year, is not eligible to ride the bus because we live too close to the school. I have spoken, today, with Executive Director Dr. Chris McMichael. He informed me that this information is accurate. I have, once again, been put in a position to decide how my child will get home from school, as there is no after school at this level, and she cannot ride the bus and I will be at work. 

The road, Haymon Morris Road, on which my 11 year old child would have to walk home has no side walk and is very busy with traffic. There are no plans to put in a side walk, and no other options presented for this issue. I have a mortgage that I pay every month, and taxes to Barrow County, and my children deserve a better solution. I do not know where else to turn for help.

The only other solution I know of is to have a parent at home that doesn’t work a job outside the house. This probably isn’t a feasible solution for myself or most of the other parents. I have tried to talk with those at the school board, to no avail. I was told I could read about these decisions in the paper or online, that nothing is done in secret. I am on the e-mail list for the school board and have received nothing about any of this.

Further, I am outraged that it was suggested by Dr. McMichael that my child go ahead and walk down a road where there is no sidewalk, this a dangerous and unacceptable idea for a child, any child. What can we parents do??? Thank you for listening, I hope there are enough parents who will state how these changes are affecting them, and we can make a change. And something else, not to be overlooked, these are ELECTED OFFICIALS, and this job can be done by someone else who might care about these issues.

Nicole McIntyre
Bethlehem, Ga.

The opinions expressed above are those of the writer, not Barow Patch. Barrow Patch will accept letters to the editor discussing current local issues. Letters should be addressed to the editor and not to third parties. All letters must have the name of the author and contact information, such as a phone number or e-mail address. Contact information will not be published and will be used for verification purposes only. Letters should express the thoughts of the writer. Copied content will not be published. All letters are subject to editing for length, clarity and factual accuracy. Barrow Patch reserves the right to reject letters that do not comply with our site’s acceptable use policy. Letters may be submitted via email to barrow@patch.com.

Rebecca Wachowiak- Hitchcock August 05, 2012 at 05:57 PM
I personally think the Board didnt want any bad publicty right before reelections! And this is a major change the Board should have notified the parents! Why couldnt they sent out a recorded msg?
JDW August 05, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Sorry Rebecca, saw this the day after I signed it. It did go through. I would say you need to get as many signatures as possible. I may have a possible solution to this, if you want to private message me, I will let you know what it is.
Rachel Henson August 06, 2012 at 01:40 AM
I am with anyone who wants to help to make a change. My childrens safety is always first and nothing less. I feel that our boe and the superintendent should feel the same but with the new things they are throwing out there it doesnt show they have any concern or care for my childrens safety. I am not happy about the uniform issue either and am very glad that I have the option to say no this year - after reading in the paper that it is mandatory next year - I am very upset b/c my child should not be made to wear a uniform at public school and I shouldnt have to change my budget to make them happy. However, at this time I will put that fire on the back burner and fight this fire with 200%. If we do not make a stand Ms. Creel will keep coming up with all kinds of other crap for this county and continue to make decisions that are not in the best interest of our children. I do not care how many awards she gets or what her title is....if she has the position of superintendent then she needs to put our childrens safety first - period - no questions asked - if she cannot do so then she needs to get another job in another county - or maybe we should put her in the cleaning crew she has hired for the school system. I want our county superintendent to be someone I can trust with my child and she is not that person. If our police department doesn't think this is a smart idea then she should do the same.
L August 06, 2012 at 07:34 PM
what a joke! it makes me sick to say I am a Barrow County resident. if I could sell my house, I would be gone in a second. these elected officials aren't concerned for the citizens and especially the welfare of the kids with their safety. We need an entirely new school board in the near future and I won't be voting for any of the ones currently serving.
I Care August 08, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Short term solutions- imperfect but immediate: Perhaps this site (or something like it) could provide a solution: http://www.carpoolworld.com/carpoolworld-communities.html Each school could set up a link on their respective websites for "no-bus" area parents to coordinate with other parents & volunteers- with obvious hold harmless liability disclaimers for the school. A bing search for carpool brought up several private schools that offer that service on their school website. Perhaps an e-mail to each school principal could get this going. These policy changes will not be changed overnight and school begins next week. I'm not saying it is the best solution, but it is the best one at the moment while the discussion over the budget & new policies continues. Carpools are organized faster than sidewalks could be built. People in the "no-bus" radius might also consider working with the local police to set up neighborhood watch and remain vigilant.

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