COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County School System's (NCSS) board of education voted unanimously at a meeting on Tuesday to implement a three-tier pupil transportation system for the 2011-12 school year.
According to Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent for NCSS, the new system will provide significant cost-savings to the district — approximately $1,477,441 — due to a decreased need for personnel, buses and fuel.
He added that the new transportation system will necessitate a change to school start and finish times next school year. NCSS currently utilizes a two‐tier transportation system where middle and high schools share the same start and finish times. Elementary schools start and finish the school day earlier.
The new three‐tier system will have staggered school start and finish times at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
In addition to providing a significant cost-savings to NCSS, officials said the new system will offer many additional benefits, including the elimination of combined routes, meaning middle and high school students will not ride on buses together, which should result in improved student discipline.
In addition to riding on the bus only with their peers, middle school students should see a reduced ride time with the new three‐tier system.
According to Carpenter, the three‐tier system will result in the district having adequate staff and buses to provide transportation for athletic events and field trips. The new system will also eliminate the need for substitutes, as substitutes are built into the three‐tier system.
“Three‐tiered transportation has worked well in other localities around the nation,” NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews said. “It brings NCSS different routes for elementary, middle, high and alternative-education students, respectively. With each population having its own buses, I believe we
are more ‘age‐appropriate’ when it comes to transporting our students. It should provide for better discipline, as has been the case elsewhere.”
Mathews also noted that, "Academically, the new start-stop times for the school day are in keeping with the so‐called ‘biological clock’ research related to when certain‐age students learn best."