COVINGTON -- Officials at the Newton County School System are trying to improve communication in the Transportation Department.
NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews has vowed to work with the department to help sort out issues that parents and students are having with changes in the program.
Resident Ed Applewhite, whose 8-year-old grandson attends Flint Hill Elementary School, said he's had problems with the transportation system since the beginning of the school year but feels all issues should be resolved by now.
"My concerns have been going on since the second week, but I didn't say anything," he said.
He spoke at the regular session meeting of the Newton County Board of Education last week, when he told school board members how his grandson's bus routes and drop-off times keep changing without much notification.
"I've been told it's never going to happen again three times," he said. "I don't believe them. It's happened too many times."
NCSS Deputy Superintendent of Operations Dennis Carpenter reported that the department is in the process of setting up more school messenger alerts, which parents sign up for at the school by providing their phone numbers to get important automated calls regarding transportation, school events and system-wide announcements. He also told Applewhite how he is meeting with the Transportation Department to discuss communication.
"We should be self-sufficient," Carpenter said. "These are internal communication issues."
Mathews said he would work closer with Carpenter and the department to improve the situation.
"I think we have to do a better job at interoffice communication," Mathews said at the meeting.
This school year, NCSS began a three-tiered transportation system to save about $1.5 million and eliminated nearly 100 positions, including bus drivers, substitute drivers and bus monitors. Elementary students attend school from 7:40 a.m. to 2:10 p.m., high school from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. and middle school from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.