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Superintendent says need for Athens City High School bus does not justify costs

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 12:05 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Athens City Schools provides bus transportation for its elementary and middle school students. However, the convenience ends at the 9th grade. Several parents have expressed concerns about transportation at the high school level.

Paula Whittacker who cannot drive due to health reasons and her husband who works says this is unfair to all the children who can’t make it to school otherwise.

“It has absolutely taken away all their equal opportunities for schooling. It is a big enough city that they should have it for everybody. Not all parents can take their kids to school because of jobs,” says Whittaker.

Whittaker’s 16-year-old, Katrina, says she used to be an honor roll student, but not being able to get to school consistently, is taking a toll on her learning.

“It is pretty upsetting actually. Most of the time it can be stressful or frustrating,” says Katrina.

Athens City Schools Superintendent, Beth Patton, says there needs to be 5 to 6 buses to cover all the kids in the city.

“To purchase a bus is just over $100,000. I believe the cost right now is just $100,200 is the cost of a bus. Then when you add fuel, the driver’s salary, and insurance it is just under $140,000,” says Patton.

She says the need is not great enough yet to justify the expense.

“When we dig down into it they’re not really wanting to utilize the services,” says Patton.

“Some do need some after school assistance so if they are not able to pick their child up right after school and they need a place they know their child can be safe and that is what we are working on with parents because we want to be able to provide what they need.”

Patton tells me they are dealing with some cases individually. If you have a need for a high schooler to receive busing you are asked to reach out to Mike Bishop with Athens City Schools at mike.bishop@acs-k12.org.

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