ATLANTA — After more than 30 years of providing training seminars and workshops to Georgia’s school transportation departments, the Pupil Transportation Safety Section of the Georgia State Patrol (GSP) has been cut, an apparent victim of the state’s increasing financial woes.
Under the Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS), the GSP handled all training of new and current transportation administrators, instructors and drivers. Although an estimated $26,000 was budgeted for the division, the funds went only toward materials and supplemental costs, such as room and board during training sessions. Personnel and administrative fees were not covered.
George Ellis, DPS chief executive and GSP commissioner, further explained that such action was taken in accordance with Gov. Sonny Perdue’s request that all state troopers be returned to road assignments. Two officers and one clerk were assigned to the section, though as many as five officers have been utilized, said Carroll Pitts, director of transportation for the Cobb County School District in Marietta, Ga., and educational committee chairman for the Georgia Association for Pupil Transportation (GAPT).
There have been talks to transfer the safety training program from the GSP to the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety, which administered post-program testing. However, with no additional funding to be provided in the event of such a transfer, the section would again be a dead issue.
School systems and transportation directors across the state continue to flood legislatures with phone calls and letters in hopes of resurrecting the fallen program.
“I just feel strongly about continuing it, because it was a good program, a proven program,” said Pitts. “They’ve done a great job in training not only drivers but administrators and instructors in the state of Georgia.”
Besides various in-class training sessions, other services provided through the GSP program included safety training instructor schools, a driver-instructor safety symposium, assistance in local pupil transportation safety training and overseeing state and local roadeo competitions.
For more information, visit the GAPT Website at www.gaptonline.org.
— BEVERLY BRAGA