County board votes for $2.4 million line of credit, discusses bus routes
by Daniel Gaddy
May 13, 2011 | 3717 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After a discussion about wasteful bus routes, the Walker County Board of Education during its meeting Thursday approved a $2.4 million line of credit for the school system, which Superintendent Jason Adkins called an obvious sign of the district’s economic stress.

“In other words, if we get into a situation where we can’t make payroll then we have this to fall back on because we have nothing else,” Adkins said. “If there was money in the general fund there would be no need to borrow money.”

Adkins also said financial officers with the county schools requested $5 million from First Bank of Jasper but the district was only approved for $2.4 million.

Before the board approved the motion for the line of credit, members heard from Lupton School Principal Brenda McAdams and Valley School Principal Tommy Kacharos regarding bus routes coming from their schools to Curry High School.

Though many Lupton students attend Carbon Hill High School and many Valley students attend Cordova High School, students from both schools can choose to attend Curry High School. Regardless of the school they attend, the students can take a bus to class.

However, bus rides between the schools are lengthy since Lupton and Valley schools are approximately 16 miles from Curry High School, the principals said.

The bus routes are also costly. Kacharos said three bus routes going from both schools to Curry High cost the district around $54,812 a year, according to his discussions with the state transportation director.

“This is a teacher’s job,” Kacharos said, referring to the cost that could be used to pay an educator’s salary if the routes were eliminated.

McAdams added that many of her students wait 30 minutes for buses from Curry to feed to the other eight buses going to areas in Lupton. She added that the school’s personnel looking after the children work 45 minutes extra because of the wait.

More than the extra costs, however, the principals said the added time and the students waiting at the schools create a problem when emergencies like severe weather occur.

Kacharos said that, during the ice storms early in the year, he had students waiting for an hour before school officials could get them home.

“For the benefit of the system and the benefit of our schools and for the benefit of everybody, I think in the long run we would be better off stopping these buses,” he said.

Butch Sargent, local Uniserv director for the Alabama Education Association, said state funds are available to pay for the drivers’ salaries and much of the fuel costs.

Sargent also pointed out that canceling the bus routes would mean a bus driver losing his job. He said the principals’ concerns of student safety are completely legitimate, but they should not “justify one person’s job with the loss of another.”

Adkins said the board would discuss the matter and make a decision in two weeks.

In other business:

•Both Adkins and school board Chairman Brad Ingle praised district employees as well as Walker County residents, churches and businesses for the tremendous outpouring of support to the areas affected by the April 27 outbreak of tornadoes. “It has been rewarding to me to see the good side of human nature,” Adkins said.

The board also recognized a moment of silence for those killed in the severe weather, including Cordova residents Jonathan Doss, 12, and his 10-year-old brother, Justin Doss.

•The board recognized the achievements of the Carbon Hill High School Cheerleaders, the coaches and players of the Carbon Hill High Basketball team, and a group of Walker County Center of Technology students for their participation in a regional robotics competition.

• The board voted to allow Tri-County Agency use of Farmstead Elementary School during the summer to hold a program for students with special needs throughout the area.

•At the conclusion of the meeting, the board went into an executive session.