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VBOE Discusses Bus Rider Safety

During the business services report at the regular monthly Vidalia City Schools Board of Education meeting on August 8, Board Member Bruce Asberry addressed several calls he has received concerning bus rider safety.

According to Asberry, many parents and community members have reached out to him asking for help to get a “Bus Stop Ahead” sign placed on Montgomery Street. “Last year, I requested some bus signs for Montgomery Street [because] let’s say you are coming from Food World – when you come onto Montgomery Street over the hill, kids play out there while waiting for the bus. The drivers don’t know that there is a bus stop there, so I think we should put up a sign. People come up the road and don’t realize it’s a bus stop, and they almost hit the kids. What is it going to take to get signs there?”

Superintendent Garrett Wilcox reassured, “I remember us talking about that sign in a conversation last year and will follow up on it.” Asberry told Wilcox that a sign had been placed at the intersection, but was placed in an area which could not be seen by those traveling along Montgomery Street.

Asberry said another concern which constituents have been sharing with him involves the same area. “I have had two phone calls because the homeless are beginning to come out of the woods near there and scare the kids,” he shared. “I don’t know what to do about that besides asking for more police presence.”

Wilcox responded to the concern. “We talked to the City of Vidalia after one of the parents called about that. I actually rode through there to see if I could see where they were hanging out, but we did make the City aware of it, and they said they would help.”

During the business services report, Plant Operations Director Russell Burkett informed the Board that out of the 241 air conditioning units in school facilities, only one unit is broken. This unit is located at the end of the 5th grade hall at Sally D. Meadows Elementary School, and the replacement part was ordered over 6 months ago. Because of supply issues, the part is not expected to arrive until around September 15. “We can only get this part from one manufacturer, so we are doing the best we can to fix this as fast as possible,” he emphasized.

In addition, Burkett told the Board that new bus drivers and a new mechanic are now working in the Transportation Department. He said these additions have been vital to the efficient running of the bus system.

Assistant Superintendent Sandy Reid spoke to the Board on the success of the annual District Leadership Retreat, which was held off-campus for two days at the end of July. According to Reid, a great deal of vital data review was completed during this time. “It was very, very productive,” Reid remarked. “We talked a lot about where we are, where we need to be, and how to get there.”

The group underwent numerous trainings, completed their first Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) meeting of the year, and developed plans for professional development and an extensive new teacher mentoring program.

Reid said that this first month of school has been devoted to further understanding of the new K-5 Core Literacy program, which is being integrated into classes at J.D. Dickerson Primary School and Sally D. Meadows Elementary School this year. Next month, coaches from this new curriculum will help to train teachers in the classroom, as the school system focuses on strengthening the early literacy skills of their students.

She also told the Board that the highly-anticipated K-12 math standards are being rolled out across the state, necessitating training in the new objectives.

During the technology report, Technology Director Sabrina Wiggs announced that Senate Bill 93-A, which bans TikTok from being used on state devices, has been passed in the legislature. She also stated that she and Nutrition Director Denise Parson are reviewing the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (PEBT) program in hopes of discovering the reason for a disconnect between the state and parents. She shared that some families easily receive PEBT and others struggle to access the funds. Lastly, Wiggs told the Board that she is working to replace several Chrome books using the previously received Rural Technology Grant.

A new public comment board policy revision was introduced at the meeting. This revision will allow members of the public to sign up to address the board on topics related to the meeting agenda at least 15 minutes before the meeting. The full overview of these proposed changes is available for review on the district website. The final vote on the revision will be held at next month’s meeting.

Several personnel changes were approved during the meeting, including the retirement of OnDraya Davis, nutrition worker, and the hirings of Raymond L. Bentley, JROTC Instructor; Carla Carmouche, bus driver, Albert White, mechanic/ substitute bus driver; Raymond Collins, bus driver; and Ciera Stokes, bus driver.

Several pieces of equipment were purchased for the school system using Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funding. This equipment includes a double fryer set, purchased for $29,463.70; a double kettle set, purchased for $31,399.42 for J.R. Trippe Middle School; and a combination oven/steamer for J.D. Dickerson Primary School for $31,046.75.

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