CHIPLEY — Kate Smith Elementary School Teacher Marla Whitaker expressed her concerns about the bus dismissal schedule to the Washington County School Board on Monday during a special meeting.
“We’re dismissing children and they are sitting there 30-40 minutes waiting on a bus,” Whitaker said. “I have concerns about the safety of having the children sitting there waiting that long.”
“Students are being dismissed at 2:30, and the late buses arrive at 3:15,” Whitaker said. The number of students waiting to ride on one of the five late-arriving buses is about 200, she said, and there are only three or four teachers on hand to watch over the waiting children.
“They can’t wait in the cafeteria at that time, so if it is raining or cold, I don’t know what we are going to do with them,” Whitaker added.
Whitaker said the bus dismissal schedule had been changed in hopes of giving teachers more after school time to work, but that is not the case. “With the late dismissal of students, we don’t get to have effective faculty meetings and we don’t get to talk with the parents like we would want to,” she said.
“The intention was to gain institution time, but that has not been the reality,” Whitaker said. “We thought this was going to be a temporary situation, but now we have learned that it is fixed.”
“Thank you for bringing this to our attention,” Board President Terry Ellis said, adding that Superintendent Joe Taylor and Maintenance Director Mike Park should get together and work out a solution to the situation. “Lets have Mr. Taylor and Mr. Park bring us back a solution to the October workshop.”
The board also approved the low bid of $70,980 for the renovations to the Chipley High School gymnasium lobby expansion. The low bidder was Anderson & Associations Construction of Panama City.
The next meeting of the Washington County School Board is set for Oct. 14 with a workshop beginning at 3 p.m., to be followed by the regular October meeting beginning at 5 p.m.