I would like to comment on the articles that I read about the Columbia County Board of Education wanting to spend $255,000 on a GPS system to be put on school buses. My wife is a special education school bus driver and I feel that if the CCBOE can find extra money for a GPS system, then it should be used to purchase new special education buses or to repair the current fleet of extra buses.
The GPS system was brought to the attention of the CCBOE at a board meeting in March 2006. I have not received a response. I asked, "When have we ever lost a big yellow school bus to warrant the purchase of this GPS system?" I was told that Superintendent Tommy Price would be getting in touch with me. I still have not received any information.
According to my wife, there are several buses currently on the road that need to be replaced. These buses are more than 15 years old and break down frequently, leaving the students, drivers and aides to endure the elements until a spare bus is brought to them. Also, I think the county should look at other transportation options on which this kind of money could be utilized.
My wife tells me that the drivers would welcome a GPS system so that the Department of Transportation can see that the bus routes do not work the way the Edulog System claims. The Edulog System was a waste of taxpayer's money. Often drivers are told to make the Edulog System routes work within a time period that is not possible. Buses are always making stops, such as railroad crossings, etc., which is not figured in on the Edulog System. This is unnecessary stress put on the drivers to make the routes work.
Some drivers have been told they could lose their jobs if they can't make the routes work. The GPS system would record the speed of the bus, the idle time and where the bus is located. Some drivers have exceeded the speed limit to "make it work," instead of losing their jobs.
How is it that the CCBOE can find money for an assistant director of transportation, having never had one prior to this past year, but can never find the money to pay the drivers for all the time worked? How can the CCBOE find money for a GPS system in lieu of an updated bus fleet? How can they lower the special education driver aide's pay? Why is there no difference in pay for a first-year aide and an aide that's been on the job for 20 years? Why do 20-year veteran drivers lose pay instead of making more than a first-year driver? Where did the money come from for yet another appointed superintendent, as I understand that Sandra Carraway has been appointed to the position of deputy superintendent, and finding the money to keep Price on as a consultant for Charles Nagle, who was his assistant for years? It seems that the CCBOE is top-heavy with administrative personnel and not enough working personnel.
It seems Columbia County is getting the same type of reputation that Richmond County has with more money going to administration and less to the people who make it work or to education itself.
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