SCCPSS Board discusses waiver options, transportation - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

SCCPSS Board discusses waiver options, transportation

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

The Savannah-Chatham County Public School Board held a meeting Wednesday to discuss agenda items such as student transportation and Georgia flexibility options.

Board members got an idea of where money needs to be directed in order to run the district’s transportation service – a decision they made several weeks ago.

The school system voted to take on the task following MV/Reliant Transportations announcement that they would not be finishing the two year contract with the district.

District staff will begin providing transportation services in mid-May, but there's a lot of work to be done between now and then.

Human resources for the school district anticipates it will take two to three months to conduct interviews and have enough employees in place, so that process is happening now.

A total of 70 employees will be needed to complete the transition.

Hiring staff before MV/Reliant Transportation is officially out the door will exceed the current transportation budget by nearly a million dollars. And startup costs altogether for the district-led transportation of students will cost about $2.5 million.

School system leaders are asking those funds be pulled from contingency, from fund balance and from existing operating costs.

"This is going to be a gargantuan task, and it will be certainly to our advantage and to the advantage of all of our children if everything runs smoothly and quickly and seamlessly. So I'm very happy to see this in this concise form. It's a lot of work, and good luck,” said Cornelia H. Hall, District 3.

District 1 representative, Julie Wade, commented saying it would have been nice to have these numbers in front of them before they made the decision, adding board members acknowledged they didn't really see a better option.

As far as the flexibility option goes, the school system opted to elect the IE Squared option, or Strategic Waiver option. Like all school systems across the state, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System has to make that choice, and then enter into a five-year contract with the state. During public hearings, the school system gathered what waivers parents and taxpayers wanted to apply for, and presented the results of that feedback to board members.

The four waivers dropped, or that the school system is moving forward without applying for include 30 minutes of required duty-free lunch time for K through fifth grade teachers, prescribed courses, an attendance protocol committee and a specific schedule for library media centers. 

The decision to pick those four came following public feedback sessions once it was determined that the district was going with the IE Squared, or strategic waiver system. And ultimately, the board opted to move forward with the recommendation in a 5 to 4 vote.

Here's a portion of the dialogue just before the vote happened.

"I know this contract runs to 2021. Are we able to modify it in the interim,” asked Julie M. Wade, District 1.

"There is very little room for modification. From what my understanding is, if there is something substantial, detrimental that has occurred in the district like a major shift in student population, then the contract terms can be amended for a school. Those are the things that they have identified that would allow for a contract to be modified,” said Chief Data and Accountability Officer David Feliciano.

Wade was one of the votes against the recommendation for the exclusion of the waivers.

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