Most parents speaking at a concerned citizens meeting Tuesday related similar lists of objections to the new bus stops used by the school system: The centralized stops require children as young as kindergarten to walk by themselves on roads with no street lights or sidewalks, facing the dangers of traffic, sexual predators and wildlife.
Between 50 and 60 parents turned out for the meeting to voice their fears that the new bus stops are dangerous. As promised by lead organizer Willie Prather, everyone was allowed to speak as long as they wanted with the meeting running well past two hours as parent after parent told of their specific complaints to the new stops instituted this school year. Prior to this year, the school buses in Pickens County essentially ran “door-to-door” service. School faculty say combining bus stops, staggering school start times so that some drivers run two routes will save $120,000 this year, by eliminating some driver positions and buses.
School board chairman Wendy Lowe and vice-chair Byron Long attended the meeting, both addressing the group. Commissioner Rob Jones and Sheriff Donnie Craig were also on hand to hear from the citizens, although neither has any direct involvement in school transportation.
See updates on this story, parent comments and school board response in this week’s print edition.