School board went extra mile on new busing plan

Published 11:08 am Friday, August 18, 2017

As we see it, the Southampton County School Board and administration have been particularly diligent in how they approached solving the busing issue.

On Monday, the board voted unanimously to implement a two-tier bus system beginning this school year. It was determined that the start time for middle and high school students will be 7:45 a.m.; and 8:30 a.m. for the elementary students; previously it had been 8 a.m. to 3:15 p. m. for all levels.

This past February, board member William Worsham brought to everyone’s attention that the school system is facing increasing difficulties in finding qualified drivers to transport students. Loses of existing drivers were in store because 23 of them were soon eligible for retirement. He formally proposed research be done about the two-tier bus system. That plan enables fewer drivers needed by collecting and dropping off one set of students first, then turning around to pick up the next group.

From March through May, considerable discussions took place at board meetings. Extensive research from transportation director Ricky Blunt and transportation coordinator Ruth Burch informed the members about options to consider. In addition to opportunities at regular meetings for public comment, three hearings were scheduled that also allowed anyone to offer suggestions or concerns.

We genuinely appreciate that transparency from the school system, and are hopeful that the plan will prove to be the right choice for all concerned, particularly the drivers and students.