Decision delayed on two-tier busing

Published 9:51 am Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Anyone hoping for a decision this week on the proposed two-tier busing system for Southampton County public schools will have to be patient a while longer. During the meeting on Monday evening, vice chairman James Pope recommended a work session on this issue as well as a school survey. All present in the quorum of members agreed, and established the date of Tuesday, Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. in the board’s regularly meeting place, the Wigwam of the Career Technical Education Center, which is located between Southampton Middle and High schools.

The two-tier system is intended to increase efficiencies in transportation, such as retaining or recruiting qualified drivers in addition to saving money in bus maintenance expenses. According to Ricky Blunt, director of auxiliary services, the school division has been having difficulty finding drivers for the existing routes. This has compelled not only transportation coordinator Ruth Burch and himself to get behind the wheels, but also the mechanics; they say much time is lost in driving when they could be maintaining or repairing buses.

Already, three public hearings have taken place in the past two months. During the third session, several more speakers than previous meetings urged the board to get more input and work out all issues before implementing any plan. One concern includes elementary school students being at bus stops while it’s still dark in the morning. Another is day care either before or after school for those youngsters.

Currently, elementary and secondary schools in Southampton start at 8 a.m. and end at 3:15 p.m. Two examples were given for a proposed two-tier system in Southampton County with secondary schools beginning first. Tier 1: 7:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. for secondary; Tier 2: 8:45 a.m., 3:45 p.m. for elementary.

Or elementary schools starting first, Tier 1 at 7:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.; Tier 2, 8:45 a.m., 3:45 p.m. for secondary.

In other business:

• Board member Dr. Carolyn Modlin nominated Dr. Deborah Goodwyn to remain as chairwoman; Denise Bunn put James Pope’s name to stay as vice chairman, and the board agreed to both. Supt. Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon will also continue as clerk with Lavern Artis as deputy clerk to the board.

All meetings will continue to take place the second Monday of each month starting at 7 p.m. in the aforementioned location. Bunn also proposed the director of special education to attend meetings in the superintendent’s absence and to report to the Virginia Department of Education.

All meetings will continue to take place the second Monday of each month starting at 7 p.m. in the aforementioned location. Further, the salaries of board members will be at $5,000 with $300 extra for chairman; mileage is at 32.5 cents.

• “It’s been a very good year,” Southampton High School Principal Allene Atkinson reported. She said that of the 156 graduates, 67 (43 percent) were honor graduates, including the children of Pope, Bunn and Donna Rountree. Further, 37 (53 percent) had completed Career Technical Education programs.