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School system suffers from tight supply of bus drivers

With Grady County schools in the middle of their second full week, Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard marvels at the ease of the year’s opening. At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Grady County Board of Education, Gilliard said the school start has been “one of the smoothest that I’ve been associated with.”
He said only one or two parents had complained, and he said their issues needed attention.
Still, one concern that could rock the boat is the school system’s limited number of bus drivers. “All of the routes are covered now, but if we have one driver out, we will have a problem,” Gilliard told the board.
Some bus routes may undergo adjustments as the school year continues to help alleviate crowding. “We can’t have any child standing in the bus,” Gilliard said.
The school system is also considering changing the times some in-town students are picked up in the mornings. For instance, younger students may be allowed on a bus first to be dropped off at school before the bus returns to pick up older students, or vice versa. “That may be a problem for some families that depend on older children to babysit, so we will work with families on that,” Gilliard said.
The school system is continuing with plans to establish its own police force. Gilliard reported that he had obtained from the Georgia School Boards Association samples of policies that would be needed, including a weapons policy to allow an armed employee on campus. Advertisements for positions on the force may be seen in coming weeks. Based on inquiries, Gilliard said he was optimistic that he could hire officers who are already certified by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (P.O.S.T.).
In other business:
Gilliard announced that five former students will receive their diplomas in a special graduation ceremony Thursday. The students, who attended school sometime between 1985 and 2015, were initially denied their diplomas because they failed to pass the Georgia High School Graduation Test or its predecessor, the Georgia High School Writing Test. The test requirements were eliminated in 2015 by House Bill 91, which also allowed former students the right to petition the board of education to determine their eligibility to receive a diploma. Gilliard said the five students who successfully sought their diploma will receive them in the ceremony Thursday at 7 p.m. at the VanLandingham Center on Broad Street.
The board approved the hiring of the following personnel: Shari Williams, parapro at Northside Elementary School; Jennifer Lodge, ISS parapro at Whigham School; and Linda Johnson, nurse at Washington Middle School.
The board voted to accept the resignations of: Rod Brinkley, bus driver; Timothy Helms Jr., teacher at Cairo High School; and Chaundra Marshall, parapro at Northside.
The following transfers were announced: Darrie Stephens, special education teacher to special education parapro at Southside Elementary School; Theresa Jones, special ed parapro to special ed teacher at W.M.S.; Debra Rocuant, special ed parapro at C.H.S. to special ed parapro at W.M.S.; and Connie Jackson, special ed parapro at Southside to special ed parapro at C.H.S.

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