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Board cuts transportation for Jessye Norman students

To save money, students must find ride home

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 12:54 AM
Last updated 12:55 AM
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Because of budget constraints, the Richmond County School System will alter an 11-year-old agreement with Jessye Norman School of the Arts and no longer bus students home from the after-school program.

The change is a compromise made after the district informed the school in May that it could no longer transport students from their zone schools to the arts building on Telfair Street or take them home when the program ends at 6 p.m., as had been done since the program’s inception.

There were 81 students enrolled in the program last year; about 50 were being transported by the school system from Langford Middle, C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet, A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet, John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet and Hornsby K-8 schools, according to Jessye Norman board of directors member Linda Scales.

Scales said the school will have to ask parents to pick up their students or find carpools at the end of the day, but the compromise is better than leaving students without a method of getting to the school at all.
“It will be hard, but we’ll try,” Scales said. “We appreciate the support, because it could have been more difficult.”

The Richmond County Board of Education approved the compromise 7-2 Tuesday, with Barbara Pulliam and Patsy Scott in dissent and Marian Barnes absent.

The school offers free visual arts, dance, music and drama education to mostly low-income students, along with tutoring and homework assistance in its after-school program.

Transportation Director Jimmie Wiley said his department has designed routes so drivers can efficiently drop students at Jessye Norman while they are running the normal routes from the five schools to surrounding neighborhoods. The cost over the years has come in driving the roughly 50 students from Jessye Norman to their homes.

During this budget year, when all schools had to cut 7 percent of their costs, the transportation
department also had to slice $300,000 from its operations.

Because Wiley said there is almost no cost for drivers to make pit stops at Jessye Norman along their normal afternoon routes, board member Alex Howard said it only makes sense to at least continue that aspect.

“We have a group of people trying to involve our students in something good, a free program that does not cost the school system any money,” Howard said. “It’s benefited our students, and I think it’s something we need to do.”

Scales said that in the program’s history, no students have dropped out of school, many have gone on to college and all perform ahead of their peers on standardized tests in every subject.

“It goes along with the evidence that children involved in the arts do better academically,” Scales said. “They’re more focused and disciplined.”

Pulliam said she could not support the busing of arts students after the board this year declined to begin providing transportation for alternative program students from their homes to the campus on Walton Way.

“We have to transport all our kids,” she said. “I can’t just say because a kid is at risk or doing something wrong that he has to walk and the ones doing good can ride. My view is if we can’t do it for the kids at risk and need a ride, I can’t vote for any of them.”

IN OTHER BUSINESS

The Richmond County Board of Education voted to meet Thursday, June 27, at 4 p.m. to approve the final 2013-14 budget. The meeting will take place at the central office at 864 Broad St.

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afadel
518
Points
afadel 06/19/13 - 01:43 am
0
0
Education Needs More $

The schools need more $. We are we diverting $58 million in state taxes to unaccountable private schools? http://aymplaying.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/georgia-tax-credit-program-fo...

scoobynews
3896
Points
scoobynews 06/19/13 - 10:53 am
6
0
They were busing them to and

They were busing them to and from!!!! Wow!! Underprivileged seems real privileged to me.

jmo
16639
Points
jmo 06/19/13 - 07:14 am
6
3
Does Pulliam....

really not see the difference?

millymilly
110
Points
millymilly 06/19/13 - 08:12 am
5
4
Really Pulliam?

So because the students who are unable to behave in school cannot have transportation, neither can those who apply themselves. Let's just punish them all!! I remember being in Ms. Pulliam's class in school. Let's just say this does not surprise me. I am offended that Pulliam would compare my son who applies himself, gets stellar grades, and has the opportunity to attend the wonderful Jessye Norman.....to those who are obviously unable to perform self control.
My child goes to A.R. Johnson and gets bused from A.R. to Jessye Norman (or used too), and it helped out a lot. I work in Martinez and going from Martinez to downtown at 3pm to get him and drive him a couple of blocks to Jessye Norman and then going back to work, then going back to get him at 6pm will be a huge inconvenience. Unless I can find another parent, he may not be attending Jessye Norman this year.
As a parent, I understand it is my duty to see that my child gets where he should and I don't feel as though the school providing transportation should be expected. But this really is a big inconvenience and I can't see myself making that trip twice a day, every day.

JRC2024
9255
Points
JRC2024 06/19/13 - 08:32 am
3
1
milymily, can your husband

milymily, can your husband not help also. When I was in school the parents got together and carpooled. What happened to that idea?

millymilly
110
Points
millymilly 06/19/13 - 08:44 am
4
0
JRC2024

My husband is out at SRS. He won't be able to make that trip daily either. I did note above "unless I can find another parent," I'm not giving up completely.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 06/19/13 - 09:30 am
0
0
Now
Unpublished

barnes there is a real piece of "work".

JRC2024
9255
Points
JRC2024 06/19/13 - 10:28 am
3
0
Miley I give you a thumbs up

Miley I give you a thumbs up for trying. Too far to travel.

scoobynews
3896
Points
scoobynews 06/19/13 - 10:59 am
5
0
Wait a second! I thought this

Wait a second! I thought this was for mostly "low-income" students. So I am to assume that not all these students are underprivileged. Just how many of them come from households with 2 incomes who are very obviously not your typical low-income underprivileged??

RoadkiII
6669
Points
RoadkiII 06/19/13 - 01:01 pm
4
0
Still gets them there

Reread the article. Students will still be bused there after school. Mom and Dad will have to pick them up at 6. Not a bad deal for free after school child care. If only the county had provided transportation when my daughter was with the Augusta Childrens Chorale.

dashiel
176
Points
dashiel 06/19/13 - 02:20 pm
2
0
There HAS to be a solution

No child should have to miss out on an opportunity like this because of a ride home. Could the city lend a hand? Maybe take a trolley out of storage?

internationallyunknown
4374
Points
internationallyunknown 06/19/13 - 02:31 pm
1
0
PERIOD

RCBOE didn't have to do this.

CCPC1
11
Points
CCPC1 06/19/13 - 07:30 pm
3
0
Really Milly?????

If this issue dealt with transporting your child to and from regular school, I would agree with you; however, this is about transporting your child home after he or she attends an after school program. Wow!! Next you will be requesting that the board allows your child to spend the night at school 5 out of 7 days of the week. You chose to be a parent and being a parent is not always convenient. Sorry :(

factfinder
6
Points
factfinder 06/19/13 - 07:42 pm
1
1
Milymily

I understand your personal concerns, however this issue is a system issue. Board members have to consider the needs of all students in the system as well as what is best for the system. The state has a high drop out rate, as well as this system. Bus transportation has been denied by this district to students who are high risk for becoming drop out, yet during a budget crunch school transportation is being offered to a non district sponsored program. There are other respected and well intended programs that can make the same request, then what. Or what happens if the parents of students in other schools located farther out request transportation to Jessie Norman school?
Please don't miss the importance of what Mrs. Pulliams's & Mrs. Scott's votes mean. With respect to the denial of bus transportation for alternative students everyone in the community should be outraged because of the negative impact dropout rate has on a community. To attract more jobs and resources to this community our school system must do better. ATTEND YOUR SCHOOLBOARD MEETING TO SEE EXACTLY WHAT DECISIONS ARE BEING MADE....AFTER A LL IF YOU. ARE NOT DRESSED "APPROPRIATEDLY" YOU MAY BE ESCORTED OFF YOUR CHILD'S school campus!

dichotomy
34305
Points
dichotomy 06/19/13 - 10:15 pm
1
0
I think the biggest negative

I think the biggest negative impact is not the dropouts. The biggest negative impact is the ones we are graduating that cannot read, write, or do math. Our illustrious school system has made the value of a high school diploma virtually worthless.

And I am sorry, but I feel that the little criminals at the alternative school have forfeited their right to free transportation. Most of them REALLY should have been expelled from school for the rest of the year but were given the "opportunity" to go to the alternative school to save their butts from being a year behind. Their fault....their parent's fault.....not my fault. I should not have to pay an extra nickel to transport their little juvenile delinquent rear ends.

KnowItAll
3
Points
KnowItAll 06/20/13 - 12:15 am
0
1
MilyMily

I am assuming that you have not read the June 11th article concerning 135 job cuts facing the RCSS. While I can understand that you want the best for your child, your and your husband's convenience should not cloud your ability to see what is in the best interest of all children. If RCSS can or will not transport all of the students attending its public schools, it is unfair to expect it to provide total transportation for optional programs. What's next, should the school system provide transportation to Boy Scout meeting and soccer practice?
Also, I'm not quite sure why you felt the need to make a personal dig at Mrs. Pulliam, but if you want to call someone out for making bad decisions, look at the person who thought it was a good idea to make cuts in the schools when the big money is being made downtown.

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