Dougherty schools may provide more transportation - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty schools may provide more transportation

July 21, 2006

Albany -- The Dougherty County School system is thinking about providing school bus service to students who normally walk to school. It's their solution to the dilemma created when the Albany Police department cut off money for school crossing guards.

Ogelthorpe Boulevard, Gillionville, Slappey, these are just a few of several busy traffic intersections many children cross to get to school each day. New questions are raising on how safely they will be able to do that this upcoming school year.

Little Vontarius is growing up. The five-year-old will start kingergarten this school year. His grandfather is just as excited as he is, but one thing doesn't sit too well with him.

"We need those school guards. We've had them ever since the 60's that I know of," Grandparent Wayne McCray says. 

With APD taking away funding from the school system for crossing guards, many parents concerned.

"It shouldn't have to be like that. It should be automatic with a budget to pay them," McCray says. 

Students who live within a mile and a half of a school don't live far enough to have a bus pick them up. Imagine having to cross this busy intersection with no crossing guard in sight.

"Our police department, the Dougherty County School System Police Dept. looked at surveys from the traffic engineering dept. as well as doing our own surveys to see what high areas we had a great deal of traffic and a large deal of children walking to and from school," says School Superintendent Dr. Sally Whately.

She says she's aware of these concerns. The school system is considering providing extra transportation, even to students who live near schools.

"Then you decrease your number of walkers so probably what we'll do is have some key areas within that mile and a half that would be pick up or loading zones," Whatley says.

It may be a fix with a new school year right around the corner, but many parents are just used to having crossing guards on hand.

"Well the money they're talking about getting more busses, they can use that to pay the school guards," McCray feels.

The plan isn't finalized yet and time is ticking. "We'll be ready and we'll inform parents of exactly how were going to handle that," Whatley says.

If your child is affected by this, you can expect a letter in the mail or mabye even a phone call from the school system informing you if bus service will be provided. 

Dr. Whatley says the district does not plan to totally get rid of crossing guards, even if the school system has to foot some of the bill. She says she's hoping the city and county governments will help out with funding.

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