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Jeff Meadors: School system taking the wrong route on alternative school bus service

Jeff Meadors

Jeff Meadors

Big yellow means big bucks in the Newton County School System, and based on what happens at the public monthly meeting of the BOE on June 25th taxpayers may be throwing more money at what has become for some NCSS officials a very long ride home.

At the May 21 public meeting of the Newton BOE, system officials offered mounting concerns over "extreme fights" on buses departing Ombudsman alternative school.

Originally sold to the public as two distinctly separate centers on polar ends of the county, Ombudsman actually wound up housed in a single facility on Bypass Road.

And $113,731.20 taxpayer dollars, or $2,644.91 per student, currently supply transportation for 43 students.

How much would taxpayers spend if system enrollment of 19,000 is multiplied by the amount lavished on students unable to ride their regularly assigned route because they refuse to behave? The math looks something like this: $2,644.91 x 19,000 = $50,253,290, a full one-third of the total general fund budget for NCSS, the largest employer in town.

These massive costs due to bad behavior are not sustainable for a system facing a daunting general fund ending balance in fiscal year 2015 of $1,881,986 (3.19 days of operating expenses).

Eliminating Ombudsman transportation does not penalize students for whom misbehavior may be a manifestation of a disability; this issue is about students who simply choose to behave badly, are given second-chance bus rides on the backs of taxpayers, yet insist on making the ride home a road for perdition for bus drivers, system officials and law enforcement.

Some argue taxpayers should fund a bus monitor at an additional $24K, bringing the average cost per student to $3,186, an increase of $558 per Ombudsman student.

But anecdotal data show adult monitors make little difference.

On May 1, an Ombudsman driver called for assistance and two NCSS officials rode the entire bus route with students. The next day, May 2, a school resource officer had to file a juvenile complaint on an unruly student. Exactly two weeks later NCSO responded to a fight at the Jack Neely bus stop at 6 p.m. The May 1 adult baby-sitters proved no panacea for aberrant behavior.

Since January students have cursed drivers, threatened to hit drivers, engaged in fights, departed the bus through inappropriate exit doors, made terroristic threats, possessed drugs and littered county roads with trash thrown from windows.

NCSO, EMS, Covington Police, Newton Medical, ambulances and 911 have all been involved in the costly ride home otherwise known as an Ombudsman bus route.

Since the inception of Ombudsman in Newton, more than 53 serious bus incidents -- requiring law enforcement in excess of 15 times -- have been chronicled.

The state does not allocate funds for transportation for alternative schools and systems are not required to fund it.

After all, what equitable monetary amounts are going to kids who follow the rules? I can't find those figures anywhere.

Jeff Meadors has served in elected and appointed positions in education and may be reached at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com

Comments

NoSPLOST 10 months, 1 week ago

Meadors also opposed spending more than 10K on a supe search but they wasted that money too. How much was spent in DC was it 2K last year reported by this paper? You all got snowed on SPLOST.

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SaveEastsideHigh 10 months, 1 week ago

He was also the only one who was telling the truth on the SPLOST language. It clearly stated a canvas had been done that indicated an "urgent necessity" for a "replacement high school." You show me an urgent necessity for that with enrollment dropping in NCSS. He tells the truth. They hate it. Oh well.

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TheUpside 10 months, 1 week ago

Is it true that they never delivered the two sites is because Dennis Carpenter was in charge and a lot of other things like lawsuits were on the radar then? Did we really ever need an Operations manager at that level I hear the new superintendent is not going to fill that job. Thanks Mrs. Fuhrey for saving that salary for taxpayers.

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Covingtonian 10 months ago

Haven't agreed with Meadors on much but I do on this issue. It should be the parents responsibility to get their mis-behaving children to and from the school. This might cause them to start parenting because it will become an inconvenience to them. There should be a strict limit on suspensions, when three are reached during a childs school career they should be put out permanently no matter their age and put in a reformatory until they graduate mandatory classes for twelve years. If I have to support their unproductive behinds better in a cage so that children who want to learn will be able to do so. Their parents should be made to pay for their upkeep by taking a portion of their payroll checks or from their welfare assistance.This madness has to stop.

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Chambermaid 10 months ago

Im very proud of you Covingtonian actually agreeing with Meadors. Wow. You used to think he was the Devil...........

Yes it should be parents job to take their misbehaving children to school. I agree

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Satan69 10 months ago

Well well well look who it is the blog patrol is back in town. Nice to see you again Covingtonian.

Nice article Meadors.

@ Covingtonian most of the children nowadays seem to need a cage, because they are to far out of control. Theyr need to be stricter punishment on suspensions period.

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Yallneedprozac 10 months ago

All these kids need stricter punishments. They need to learn that suspensions aren't vacations. So sad. If the children got treated like they were suspended then they might actually act different, not text all day and play their Xboxes. Just what kind of parenting is that.

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dennistay53 10 months ago

Great article Mr Meadors.

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John 10 months ago

Good work Mr. Meadors. This is another example of where our tax dollars (SPLOST or otherwise) should not go. Have not heard or seen in writing what the positives of this Ombudsman program has been - a real & honest report card is overdue. Possibly I have missed them or it was a vrey short story published on the back page. But I am aware that these students can stay in the NCSS until they are 21 and with the right birthday almost 22 - unless they are under the custody of another NC office.

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