News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Tuesday, Dec. 10th, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's the last chance for a lot of local students, but some who are sent to the Alternative School have a difficult time getting there.
Tuesday night, the Richmond County school board is weighing the costs of offering these students a ride.
The sound of a school bus is a distant memory for 10th grader Shawn Bradshaw. Every day, rain or shine, the alternative school student rides his bike to school.
"You gotta watch out for cars because there's no sidewalks and of course if it's raining the roads gonna be slippery," said Bradshaw. And he says he's not the only one. "There's people who ride bikes on Hwy 56 on Mike Padgett Highway."
Cuts to the transportation budget got rid of buses to the Alternative School. Some board members say it's part of the punishment, but Principal Wayne Frazier says it's just making the situation worse.
"These are the children that because of them not being in school are the same very ones that are involved in criminal activities in the street," said Frazier.
Parents and staff have been fighting the issue for months, even holding a protest outside the BOE earlier this fall. Tuesday, the juvenile court and Department of Juvenile Justice stepped in with a plan at the board meeting.
"I'm very passionate about having transportation for these kids so in Juvenile court we can use our resources effectively," said Judge Pam James.
A recent grant from Governor Deal's Office calls for them to take every step necessary to help these kids succeed and Judge James says transportation is at the top of the list.
"For me to be successful and make a difference with 20 kids who might end up being committed for a year at a cost of 90-thousand dollars each, we may have the opportunity to keep those kids in the community, in school and productive citizens," she said.
It would mean two school buses picking up from community centers or boys and girls clubs across the county. However, some board members argue the bottom line is the bottom line.
"The reality of it is it's gonna cost the school system money," said Board Member Jimmy Atkins.
Leaving students like Shawn asking, what's the price of a second chance?
"Getting transportation at least says I'm gonna give you a chance and most people will take those chances," he said.
Dr. Frazier says he picked up two students this morning biking on Tobacco Road in the rain. He says he knows it's against policy, but he got the parent's permission and says their safety was more important.
He says the new plan is a step in the right direction and he hopes board members will support it.
Now board members want to see logistics like time, cost, and basically how it would all work. They'll come back with information at next month's meeting.
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