Opp bus drivers ask for help

Published 12:02 am Friday, February 18, 2011

Opp bus drivers are taking a stand against disciplinary problems on the city’s school buses.

John Lawrence, a bus driver who attended Thursday’s board of education meeting on behalf of the bus drivers, told the board that he and other bus driver’s appreciated the cooperation they were getting from principals and teachers in terms of school bus discipline, but said more needs to be done to ensure students’ safety.

“You cannot drive down Main Street with 56 screaming kids and two fighting in the back and not run over someone,” he said. “We want to do our job the best we can.”

Wrecks and accidents involving the school buses have made national headlines and even local headines in the past year, but Lawrence said that so far, that hasn’t happened in Opp.

“We’re fortunate here in Opp, we haven’t had any accidents,” he said.

Lawrence said he has seen help from principals.

In fact, he said that one principal even paddled a child in front of him, so the child could make the connection that he will get in trouble if he doesn’t behave correctly.

Board chairman Rothel Moody commended the bus drivers for a job well done.

“Safety is our No.1 priority,” he said.

In other business, the board:

• approved a budget amendment, which includes money carried over from the last fiscal year.

• tabled the 2011-2012 academic calendar, which has a school start date of Aug. 5, in order to give the public a chance for input. Under the proposed calendar, school would start earlier than the suggested date from the from state tourism officials, and still incorporates a fall break. Superintendent Michael Smithart said that he along with a committee of teachers and others close to the school felt fall break was essential to the system because it boosts morale.

• approved a seven-year beverage vendor contract with Coca-Cola.

• tabled the adoption of the revised policy manual for the Opp City Board of Education.