Bus, cell phone issues are talk of school forum

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Joe Tate, the father of a Richmond County 10th-grader, sat in the auditorium of Academy of Richmond County on Tuesday and waited.

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Transportation Director Jimmy Wiley said at the forum that his department is working to correct routes, improve safety and address drivers' concerns.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Transportation Director Jimmy Wiley said at the forum that his department is working to correct routes, improve safety and address drivers' concerns.

He got there 20 minutes earlier than he had to, just to be sure he got a seat.

There was a worry weighing on him, and he heard about a meeting where he’d have a chance to get it off his chest.

“I pay for my child to have a cellphone so I can get in touch with him immediately,” Tate said. “The schools don’t let them have phones anymore. I pick up my son every day from school. If he’s late, I have no idea where he is. He can’t call.”

About 120 parents and bus drivers attended a Richmond County Board of Education public forum held Tuesday evening at Richmond Academy. It was meant to address concerns brought up in the first few weeks of the school year. Questions covered curriculum and diversity, but the bulk of the discussion focused on problems with buses and the rules about cellphones.

Questions were submitted before the forum, and the panel of school board members and administrators answered with prepared statements.

For more than an hour, moderators Cher Best and Minnesota Fatz, of radio station WKSP-FM (96.3), presented questions.

Some were opportunities to clear up misconceptions.

After a question about why students don’t have enough textbooks, Cheryl Jones, the executive director for elementary schools, said department heads recently reported having no shortage of books.

To a question about why most students don’t have correct class schedules, Jones said that 95 percent of high school students received their final schedules on the first day.

To the several questions regarding cellphones, Lynn Warr, the executive director of high schools, reminded the audience that cellphones are not allowed on campus, even for after-school activities. She also said it’s unlikely that rule will be changed.

Best read a question asking what was being done to make sure buses are safe.

Transportation Director Jimmie Wiley said 28 buses have security cameras, and his department just received funding for 93 more.

Wiley fielded another question asking why there are late buses and inefficient routes every year.

In the first few weeks of school, students have been dropped home hours after dismissal because of adjustments to new routes and a lack of consistent drivers.

Wiley said it is difficult to plan for how many students will be riding on each route when Augusta is such a transient city.

“You plan based on the data from the information you had last year,” Wiley said. “The main thing this year is one word: change. And we had to make adjustments.”

Wiley said his department is working to correct routes and address drivers’ concerns, but that it’s not easy to address everyone’s concerns when there are several factors affecting operation.

On the first day of school, his office had 5,511 calls. There is also a problem with absent drivers. School board Vice President Venus Cain said 20 percent of drivers call out daily.

Several bus drivers in the audience said drivers are absent or quit because of low morale.

During the last half hour of the forum, moderators opened up the floor to audience members who wanted to address the panel.

At that time, the biggest issue brought up was communication.

“We’re tired of being mistreated, belittled, talked to any kind of way,” bus driver Maurice Boyd said.

Several parents and bus drivers challenged school board members about the attention they are giving these issues.

Parent Cynthia Harris got emotional when asking board members why there aren’t more opportunities for parents to get involved in school board meetings before members vote.

School board President Alex Howard said all meeting agendas are posted in advance on the district’s Web site, but that the site could be more user-friendly.

The end of the forum became a back-and-forth between board members and the audience – with parents and drivers asking why the board isn’t doing more and board members responding that they have been proactive.

All agreed that the priority is the children.

“It’s my goal to see a child walk across the stage instead of going to jail,” Cain said. “The personal attacks and all the other stuff, I’m not going to worry about it.”

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commonsense-is-endangere
43
Points
commonsense-is-endangere 08/24/11 - 12:10 am
0
0
Buses and cell phones, how

Buses and cell phones, how about getting an education? Anyone remember the quality education that once was?

KSL
126145
Points
KSL 08/24/11 - 12:22 am
0
0
Parents of public school

Parents of public school children have a lot to worry about today, don't they. And they seem to worry mostly about everything except the quality of education their children are getting. I happen to know that the quality of public education my grandparents and my mother got (I don't mention my father because he was privately educated) were superior to my education in the 50's and 60's. Back then it included rules and discipline. Then the Fed's got involved and it all went to H in an H. Jimmy's Dept. of Ed needs to go away and so do teachers' unions.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 08/24/11 - 12:39 am
0
0
What does it say when more

What does it say when more bus drivers show up to complain about their job than show up to perform their job?

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 08/24/11 - 02:01 am
0
0
INSANE: We have a school

INSANE:

We have a school system where 25 out of 100 students will never graduate even after we spend more than $100,000.00 per pupil over 12 years to educate them. We have a system where in many schools discipline is a joke and students continually disrupt the learning environment.

So, parents and board members have an opportunity to discuss the major issues for schools...Education and School Safety/Discipline and what is the main conversation....cell phones and school buses...Really? Somehow it isn't even amazing.

For the cell phone policy, I agree and it is logical except for the "after school events" part. For high school students with vehicles or those coming to after school or evening activities such as football games the school system has no legitimate reason to restrict cell phone use. I totally understand during the school day, in the lunchrooms, classrooms, etc. but even at football games, come on now - change the rules to meet the times.

As for the school buses - it is public transportation and it will never be perfect - if you want better for your children then work out a carpool or drive them to school, otherwise, be understanding of the fact that unless major changes are made such as privatization, not much will change.

Cain is right and if that is really the goal then the board needs to step up to the plate and make some major changes. First, they must hold students accountable for their actions by holding administrators and teachers accountable for their actions and having strong disciplined schools. When you have employees missing Monday's, Friday's and many other days during the year with no discipline, what are you teaching our youth. The Board Offices need to switch to attorneys who will be tough on discipline in the schools and remove the trouble makers or those who are not there to learn. Those few greatly reduce the positive learning environment for those who want to learn - don't believe me? Then go in and speak with MANY of the middle of the road students who basically stay out of trouble and are trying to do well. They know the trouble makers as well as the few lazy teachers who give other teachers a bad name. Remove trouble makers from mainstream schools and fire lazy teachers who aren't doing everything within their power to educate our youth.

KSL, you are 100% correct....In New Jersey with over 100,000 teachers, less than 20 have been fired for inadequate teaching in the past 10 years - there is even a website discussing this in order to reform or remove the unions. In NYC, over 1,000 teachers are paid not to teach each year -- seriously, paid NOT TO TEACH because of idiotic unions. Here, the main problem is tenure, not unions combined with a very weak thinking school board attorney who basically allows a free for all from the teachers to the students and a BOE that won't get tough. It is time for some change - Dr. Bedden had the BOE on the right track (as much as they would let him) but they wern't smart enough to keep him or they just don't want a successful system.

I guess cell phones and bussing conversations may be needed but it seems to me that putting discipline back into the schools in order for education to take place would be a top priority.

The majority of the 25 out of 100 that never graduate will in fact end up in jail or dead at an early age. Of the 75 graduating, many are not prepared for the work environment with even the most basic skills, technical college or actual college. Look at customer service in our area from many of these individuals and you will see what we are teaching our youth. If that isn't enough then maybe the fact that many read & write below a 10th grade level should be cause for concern. Either way, it certainly seem to me that this should be the primary concern of the parents, BOE and community as a whole.

What we really need are school vouchers to allow those who want to learn the opportunity to go to good schools and get a good education just like the few students afforded the opportunity to attend one of the magnet schools.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 08/24/11 - 02:29 am
0
0
Could half of the RCSS HS

Could half of the RCSS HS grads pass the GED? Inasmuch as the GED passing score is set at the score level below which 30% of high school grads in the test's national sampling population earn(about the 8th grade-level),the question is not as ridiculous as it might appear at first blush. Moreover, if we consider that our state's average HS grad's academic knowledge and skills falls markedly below the national average, and the RCSS grad's average falls decidely below our state's, the rate at RCSS HS grads might pass the GED might be getting perilously close to the 50% passing rate.

A disquieting prospect? No, not disquieting, how about frightening?

allhans
23523
Points
allhans 08/24/11 - 02:42 am
0
0
30 plus years ago my

30 plus years ago my grandfather griped that the "whole world had become slaves to the telephone", that they can be sitting on the porch or maybe weeding the flowerbed..Yipes! a phone is ringing. Run...
I would love to hear him in today's cell phone world. Crazy! Absolutely nuts!
I wonder if the parents at the meeting had cell phones when they were in school.

Folks, we have lost something very important in our lives. We have lost the art of living...the enjoyment of the world around us.

Here I am 2:34 Am wide awake and what am I doing. Yep! On the computer...killing time. When time is moving so fast.

allhans
23523
Points
allhans 08/24/11 - 02:46 am
0
0
Quote from the article "If

Quote from the article
"If he’s late, I have no idea where he is. He can’t call.”
The facts are that you still don't know where they are. They can tell you anything they want you to believe.
If they are good kids they will be home on time, no need to check on them.

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 08/24/11 - 05:46 am
0
0
Insider Information. Where
Unpublished

Insider Information. Where do you get your facts? 120 parents and bus drivers is what the article said. How many bus drivers does RC have? Don't know do you? Your doing nothing but inciting hate toward bus drivers. Your comment should be removed according to AC policy.

avidreader
3094
Points
avidreader 08/24/11 - 05:55 am
0
0
Concerning cell phones, if

Concerning cell phones, if the devices were not a CONSTANT distraction, then there would be no need for a policy to govern their use. The many students who are responsible are suffering for the misuse of the few who flaunt the rules. However, think about a teacher having to constantly deal with texting in the classroom (many times during assessments) or students receiving calls or checking Facebook. Then, when the teacher confiscates the phone, the parent is up in arms about the thirty-day rule. Teachers and Principals have to deal with this crap on a daily basis.

And no matter what the rule, the child will not take responsibility when caught, and the teacher becomes the villian. And then there's the many times when a teacher confiscates a phone from a student who has borrowed it from a neighbor, and instead of one ticked-off parent, we have two.

. . . and the blissful life continues, time-after-time.

etlinks
20251
Points
etlinks 08/24/11 - 07:01 am
0
0
They still have land lines

They still have land lines ,the child can get in touch with the parent IF the parent is available. Education should be the focus not a cell phone.

rmajor
8
Points
rmajor 08/24/11 - 07:14 am
0
0
I really am glad I live in

I really am glad I live in Columbia, County. The BOE is great...(Dr. Deborah Fowler:) For the first time I'm home schooling to get my son on level with reading, but the great thing about that, is that the principal and his teacher still calls and offered their help. I have no worries about when we decide to put him back in school. I pray for the parents and students dealing with this fiasco...Ugh!

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 08/24/11 - 07:43 am
0
0
Three quick FACTS: My sons

Three quick FACTS: My sons schedule is still changing! My son has to share books with other students! My son will never take the bus!
Now about the cell phones. My son always has his phone just like 90% of the other students and teachers.

dougk
3
Points
dougk 08/24/11 - 08:41 am
0
0
Which are more trouble for
Unpublished

Which are more trouble for schools, the parents or the kids??

wondersnevercease
9218
Points
wondersnevercease 08/24/11 - 08:47 am
0
0
"Now about the cell phones.
Unpublished

"Now about the cell phones. My son always has his phone just like 90% of the other students and teachers."

Here is your problem ...If the parents are not following the rules how do you expect their spawn too?......

allhans
23523
Points
allhans 08/24/11 - 08:48 am
0
0
Parenting skills...my, my!

Parenting skills...my, my! It reminds me of 3 and 4 year old toddlers I see with pacifers in their mouth due to laziness of the parent. Give a child his pacifier, be it a cell phone, or electronic game, whatever, as long as they"stay out of my hair".

iLove
626
Points
iLove 08/24/11 - 08:54 am
0
0
Cell phones are apart of
Unpublished

Cell phones are apart of society these days. . . just look at the number of pay phones.

Today is August 24, 2011. School started on August 9, 2011...an elementary school DT has NOT issued their textbooks to their students yet. SHM.

CharlesRamsey50
0
Points
CharlesRamsey50 08/24/11 - 08:59 am
0
0
Well the way I look at this

Well the way I look at this situation about cellphones is this. There were no cellphones when I was in school. If my parents were worried about where I was going to or from school or school activities they called the school. If I was not where I was suppose to be I was in trouble. Sounds like a parent problem and not making sure their kids are responable to be where they are suppose to be. It was a standing rule that if went somewhere after school besides home my parents were aware of it, if I did not let them know. I was in trouble. My children have cellphones but I do nto allow them to take them to school due to the fact of the distraction. Also cellphones in school is also an opportunity to cheat on tests. Cellphones are not a necessity but a luxury. Just like a drivers license. It is a luxury and a priviledge to be able to drive legally. Children have no business with cellphones in school.
Now there is another solution to this problem. Jamming the signal to the phones in the school areas. After all our children are in school for an education and not to be texting or calling friends when in class.
The issue with the bus drivers and students is also easily solved. It's called 3 strikes. Riding a public school bus is also a priviledge not a necessity. If you do not obey the bus rules you get written up. 3 times and you find a different way to school. You must follow the rules. This is a reflection of how they were raised by their parents. If children are raised to respect and obey rules then there is no problem. After all our children are merely a reflection us parents. The emulate the actions of their parents as well as how well their parents make them follow the family rules. In life if you break the rules there are consiquences, The law doesn't have much flexability. If you break the law you get facilities in jail, the consiquence.

allhans
23523
Points
allhans 08/24/11 - 09:09 am
0
0
Cell phones can make it

Cell phones can make it easier for lying and cheating (even with your child) I have been in groups, happy hour, when one would get a call from the spouse and it would go like" yes, dear. I am still here. No..I won't be too much longer,trying to tie up some loose ends, maybe another hour. Love you". And then order another drink of his choice.
At least on a land phone you KNOW where your child is.

CHSDARKHORSE
50
Points
CHSDARKHORSE 08/24/11 - 09:25 am
0
0
Well said Charles!

Well said Charles!

crkgrdn
2287
Points
crkgrdn 08/24/11 - 09:29 am
0
0
Middle class families have

Middle class families have brought about so much good in our community, except education. These parents come out vocally on cell phones, sports and buses. How sad. The quality of education has not improved in the hands of government and we cannot expect education to improve if left in the hands of government. This country has thrived where volunteerism and a free market thrives.

Little Lamb
45278
Points
Little Lamb 08/24/11 - 09:35 am
0
0
iLove wrote: Today is August

iLove wrote:

Today is August 24, 2011. School started on August 9, 2011...an elementary school DT has NOT issued their textbooks to their students yet. SHM.

Some parents need to chill out about the textbooks. Teachers write lesson plans. Sometimes those plans call for introducing textbooks later in the year. Some preliminaries early in the school year do not require textbooks. For example, the teacher may be teaching the students how do use PowerPoint. The teacher may be teaching the students how to use pencil and paper to label their tests. They may be teaching fractions by having the students cut circles into pie slices. There are thousands of things that could be happening in the classroom that don't require textbooks.

By the way, what is a "DT?"

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 08/24/11 - 10:20 am
0
0
If a student carries a cell

If a student carries a cell phone turned all the way off and in the bottom of her purse, I doubt there would ever be a problem. But the can't do that; they have to constantly talk and text on them in class.

allhans
23523
Points
allhans 08/24/11 - 11:31 am
0
0
dum teacher?

dum teacher?

iLove
626
Points
iLove 08/24/11 - 12:02 pm
0
0
@LL DT meand Downtown C. T.
Unpublished

@LL DT meand Downtown

C. T. Walker, the BEST elementary and middle school in the area has their books. That is where their HW comes from so the parents can HELP the child if there was confusion from the day's lesson. . . .NOONE said teachers are teaching from the book. I know what you are getting @ but, you were so quick to respond, you didn't FULLY understand what was being said. . . .maybe I could have ben a little more clearer...

@Charles - how much of today's society is "like it was YEARS ago"?

You can adapt to society or you can fight against adapting. I am sure EVERY school district in the nation does not have a no cell phone policy. . . I wonder if RC studied how it works other places FIRST. . .knowing RC. . .I doubt it.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 08/24/11 - 12:17 pm
0
0
Cell phones wouldn't be a bad

Cell phones wouldn't be a bad idea if the students were disciplined enough to leave them off during school hours.

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 08/24/11 - 12:28 pm
0
0
Thank God my kids aren't in
Unpublished

Thank God my kids aren't in school anymore, they've graduated college and are productive citizens. They had cell phones. If they used them during school they were confiscated by me. I checked the phone bill every month. Children do not need to be using cell phones on school property unless they have permission to use it from an administrator. And what is this revelation someone had about everyone suffering because of the abuse of a few? Duh... Isn't that what laws are about? That happens every day.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 08/24/11 - 02:12 pm
0
0
Cell phone usage has not

Cell phone usage has not worked out in the school system. It takes up too much time and energy during the day to police the usage, takes too much time away from teaching, takes too much of a toll on relationships between administrators, teachers, parents and students. Most of the students lack the maturity and self control to follow the rules. Cell phones are a distraction and provide no benefit to the priority and process of classroom education. If a parents concern is their child's safety; take them out of the school because a cell phone can't save them. We are becoming an addictive, self centered, boundary less society and we are wearing the teachers out with it. I hope Richmond County will stand firm this year and not cave into a bunch of drama mamas.

ButlerAlumni93
0
Points
ButlerAlumni93 08/24/11 - 02:30 pm
0
0
I understand the world has

I understand the world has changed since I graduated from the Richmond County school system but, we made it through the years without cell phones. It seems some students and parents are coming up with many excuses and reasons as to why they need to have cell phones on campus. We communicated with our parents and others the old school way by using the payphones or the office phone. I really feel for the bus drivers. It sounds like there are some issues that really needs to be taken care soon as possible.

class1
299
Points
class1 08/24/11 - 06:25 pm
0
0
You think parents would be

You think parents would be more worried about why they can't access the students' grades on the computer. Also, why isn't anyone enforcing the new policy concerning practicing sports outside when the temperature is over 90 degrees? Pine Hill was practicing girl's softball outside on their field today in the heat which was way above 90 degrees.

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 08/24/11 - 06:29 pm
0
0
The bus driver issues will
Unpublished

The bus driver issues will never be resolved. It isn't the bus drivers. It is the school boards who think they know better than the drivers. After all, how smart could a bus driver really be? RC would rather do without a driver than to take care of one. It appears to be same over there with the CCBOE too.

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