Gilliard to seek
rule change by
GHSA on travel
The Cairo Syrupmakers’ big win Friday night over the Spalding Jaguars created a transportation issue for the Grady County School System that has resulted in a decision to cancel school for students this Friday.
Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard alerted the principals and faculties of the county’s seven schools Sunday afternoon of his intention to reschedule this Friday, Nov. 17 as a teacher workday.
On Tuesday night, Gilliard explained his rationale to the members of the board of education.
According to Dr. Gilliard, under the rules of the Georgia High School Association, the home team, which in this case is Burke County, has the choice of when to play the play-off game, either on Friday or Saturday. Burke County officials chose to play the game Friday night.
“It takes four buses to transport the football team, one for the cheerleaders and five for the band. Due to the distance, we require two drivers per bus so that is 20 drivers and a total of 10 buses. That’s almost half of our bus drivers and we have 45 routes on any given school day so we have no way to get students home,” Dr. Gilliard said.
Compounding the situation, in addition to a lack of regular bus drivers, the school system also has a very limited number of substitute bus drivers who could be called into service.
School system officials also considered making Friday a half-day of school, but even then bus routes would not be completed until approximately 1 p.m. “I didn’t want to put the stress on the drivers and sponsors to make it to Burke County and be at the stadium by 7 p.m. That would leave very little, if any, spare time in the event of something unexpected along the way,” Gilliard said.
The superintendent acknowledged it placed a hardship on some parents, but said under the circumstances this was his best option.
Monday, Feb. 19, which is President’s Day, was originally scheduled to be a school holiday, but the superintendent recommended this week, and the board approved, making Feb. 19 a regular school day for teachers and students and declaring Nov. 17 as a teacher workday.
School system administrators will be meeting today to determine how to handle faculty and staff leave for Friday’s game.
“Dr. Gilliard, I appreciate what you are doing. It is a very big inconvenience for some, but at the same time we have over 200 students who will be on the road and we need to make sure they are safe, as well,” Grady County Board of Education Vice Chairman John White said.
“A lot of the decisions we make are not easy, but we make the best decision we can with the information we have and we move on,” Dr. Gilliard responded.
Based on some parent input, Dr. Gilliard said Tuesday he will be writing GHSA to request a rules change be considered when teams are required to travel distances greater than three hours duration.
“It is my belief that if a team has to travel in excess of three hours then the game should be played on Saturday. Even a three hour trip would have been difficult to manage, but I believe we could do it and still have school. Once again, we regret any inconvenience this may have caused, but the majority of those who have expressed concern said that once they understood the background behind the decision now support it,” Dr. Gilliard said.
Gilliard to seek