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Board Reverses Decision on Parental Responsibility Zones, School System to Transport Students

Several parents addressed board members during Tuesday night's meeting asking them to reconsider implementing the zones.

Two options were presented to the Barrow County Board of Education on Tuesday night that would provide transportation to students affected by the school system's implementation of  

Several concerned parents addressed the board, asking members to reconsider the zones, which would make students in middle and high school who live within 1.5 miles from the schools they attend, according to the nearest practical route by bus, ineligible for transportation services provided by the school system.

According to Superintendent Wanda Creel, implementing the zones would save the school system $467,000. 

After hearing from the parents who signed up to address the board, Creel presented both plans for board members to consider. 

Under the first option, students living in the parental responsibility zones would be provided transportation via existing routes with an addition of nine buses — four within the Apalachee cluster of schools and five within the Winder-Barrow cluster — at a projected cost of $350,000. 

The second option was a "shuttle" type plan, with five buses — two for the Apalachee cluster and three for Winder-Barrow — shuttling middle and high school students from subdivision entrances within the parental responsibility zones. The estimated cost of this plan was $195,000.

The board initially denied both plans, but following an executive session approved the first option with a 7 to 2 vote with the intention of readdressing the issue after school starts. Board members Connie Wehunt and Lynn Stevens voted against the plan. 

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Annonymous August 08, 2012 at 02:31 AM
How can you need nine more buses when you presently have the same number of routes, drivers and buses and was had lasrt year? Has Barrow County grown in 'new' population this summer to warrrant nine new buses, routes and drivers? Get the facts ....it is your tax dollars being wasted.....Smoking Mirrors!!!!!!!
Beverly Turner August 08, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Annonymous, you make a good point. If they need "nine more buses," that means roughly 450 new middle and high school students have entered the county. That would require 15 new classrooms, teachers, etc...... Math can be a crazy thing when the BOE uses the wrong set of numbers.
Stretch August 08, 2012 at 03:16 AM
I commend my friend who was a concerned parent who spoke at this meeting. This never should have been changed in the first place. Schools are the first place that funding should go to, not be taken away from!
DNM August 08, 2012 at 12:23 PM
If there are cuts that need to be made I vote we take them from the board memebers. Did Dr. Creel not just accept a 10% raise bringing her salary close to 150k? How could you sleep at night knowing your raise was more then the yearly salary of one maybe two bus drivers?
Concerned Mommy August 08, 2012 at 12:33 PM
I dont understand why they cant just trash the whole "parental responsibility zones" policy. Seems to me the policy was put into place without any thought put into it at all. Its clear the policy is not going to work so why does the BOE have to come up with a NEW plan to address the failing policy? Just trash the policy!
Irritated Parent August 08, 2012 at 02:14 PM
So does this mean my kids will have transportation or not???? I am so confused and upset. I was reading the comments made at the meeting and one of the board members says that the information has been up since May 1st. Well I didn't hear about this until just last week. Maybe the parents should be better notified before decisions like this happen. If we, as parents, knew about this then, we would have fought it.
Concerned in Barrow August 08, 2012 at 03:07 PM
I agree that the way this and other new policies the BOE has implemented was done poorly and is extremely frustrating but I wish parents would get just as upset over the quality of education our students receive here in Barrow County. The reduction of the school calendar to 160 days will be detrimental to our children.
Concerned in Barrow August 08, 2012 at 03:12 PM
I think the reason for the additional buses is because of the bell schedule change. Middle and high school ride the bus together, and they used to have different start and end times because of the additional stops. By reducing the number of stops they were keeping the same number of drivers and route outside the "zone" but would still be able to get back to pick up elementary. This of course is because of the longer school day, because of the reduction to 160 calendar days.
Nicole McIntyre August 08, 2012 at 04:04 PM
The budget was posted on the BOE website which included the changes, or so I have been told. I looked and still had a hard time finding it. I found out from the Dept of Transportation when I inquired about when my child would be picked up. And I agree that this information was not given to parents as it should have been, maybe we could have helped offer solutions. If I understand correctly the change is this, the kids will be picked up at the subdivision entrance. I personally will be calling the transportation dept for clarification.
Nicole McIntyre August 08, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Thank you my friend!! This support came from another state, I just want parents to know...we can even come together for our kids across state lines!
Deanna Allen August 08, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Yes, your children will be transported to and from school. I recommend calling the school system to confirm your bus stop location at 770-867-4527.
rock August 10, 2012 at 12:37 AM
The school system should have notified parents by mail. I do not spend my days looking up info on their website, which I am sure most parents do not. It is absurd to have our children's safety at risk just to save money. Have they thought about the traffic situation with more parents picking up and dropping off kids? Have they thought about how there are no sidewalks where I live. I agree with the other comment regarding Wanda Creel gets a raise but our schools suffer. How does she sleep at night not supporting the children and parents of the county? I am outraged!
Marne M August 10, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Is there information somewhere to support that Dr. Creel received a raise? Because the school board said that she has not had a raise since she was hired, so I would like to see the numbers on that, in the interest of dispelling any misinformation out there. Also, the Superintendent may make recommendations and budget proposals, but in the end, it is overseen and voted on by the school board, so the blame shouldn't be placed on one person. It was Dr. Creel who presented the alternative proposals, one of which was eventually approved. And I didn't get the impression, from the meeting, that she didn't care about the children -- just the opposite, in fact. She doesn't cast a vote on the board, so I'm more concerned about the people who do.
JDW August 10, 2012 at 10:31 AM
Amen Marne M. Also to make things a little more clearer. They are not putting nine new buses on the road. They took away 12 buses, already out there for budget cuts. Then after this meeting they are putting 9 out of the 12 back on the road. There were 274 students affected in the Apalachee district and 450 in the Winder Barrow district that would have had to had alternate transportation. Now that is not happening. The school board stated that they have not had any raises in 12 years. The board themselves make 2000 dollars a year! Not a month, a year! Dr Creel, also did not recieve a 10 percent raise. That is a rumor that is going around the county. I believe this board does care about the children, they are between a rock and a hard place due to the ecomony like the rest of us are. Putting those buses back on the road was the right thing to do, but now, the money needs to be found to pay for them.

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