4 buses added for summer school

Covington - The Newton County School System has had to increase school bus services in the county due to the high volume of students attending summer school.

Charles Brasher, director of transportation for NCSS, said the transportation department added three buses Wednesday and one Thursday to its original fleet of six buses at the elementary school level for students being bused to Middle Ridge Elementary School for remediation after failing one or more portions of the state Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests given by the school system in April.

"The addition of these buses should help with the overcrowded conditions that are present on the current six buses," said Geri Hawkins, elementary summer school principal, in a letter sent home to parents of those students in the elementary summer school program.

According to NCSS Director of Public Relations Sherri Viniard, each bus now averages about 40 students.

Hawkins added that because of the additions, the school had to change some bus routes and attached a list of the changes to the letter.

"If at anytime you need to make a transportation change, please place in writing and send with your child," Hawkins said in the letter.

Middle Ridge also had to reroute drop-off and pick-up traffic at the school for those students being dropped off to help alleviate some traffic on the Bypass Road. As of Wednesday, car riders were picked up at the back of the school, while buses picked up students in the front of the school.

No additional buses have been added to the seven-bus fleet at the middle school level for those students taking CRCT remediation at Clements Middle School.

The school system also is using 13 special-needs buses.

On Monday, the school system reported approximately 625 students were enrolled in summer school after failing at least one portion of the CRCT, and as of Tuesday, 177 were enrolled in third-grade summer school and 424 in fifth-grade summer school, while 116 eighth-grade students were enrolled for math and 24 for reading.

NCSS Middle School Curriculum Director Adria Griffin said more eighth-grade students are expected to attend CRCT remediation courses later this summer, as the school system is offering four four-day "intensive sessions" in reading and math from June 9 through 12 and only math June 16 through 19.

"We had so many students that needed to retake the math (test) that we had to come up with the most economically feasible way, because my budget was cut," Griffin said of why different groups of students are taking summer remediation at different times.

She said students also are being sent home with math packets, Web site addresses and other resources that she hopes parents will allow the students to use at home or at the library to get extra practice.

According to NCSS officials, at least 1,345 third-, fifth- and eighth-grade students failed at least one required section of the CRCT: 17 percent of third-grade students, or 247 students, testing in reading on the CRCT did not meet standards, scoring below 800; 18 percent of fifth-grade students, or 262 students, did not meet standards in reading and 37 percent, or 539 students, in math; and 10 percent of eighth-grade students, or 135 students, did not meet standards in reading and 40 percent, or 559 students, in math.

NCSS hired 33 teachers for the elementary summer school program and between five and six teachers serving the CRCT remediation for eighth-grade students with the additional help of a few paraprofessionals and special-education assistants, Griffin said.

According to a press release from the Georgia DOE, the state will provide money for school systems to offset the increased summer school costs this year, but it doesn't specify an amount or a time by which the school system should expect the funding.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.