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Catawba County Schools transportation funds were cut 2.5 percent "across the board," according to the state education budget. With the decrease, CCS Superintendent Glenn Barger recommended the board consider implementing ways to reduce overtime. One idea includes hiring 62 contract bus drivers.
In essence, these 62 individuals will be part-time employees with CCS, which will help the school system reduce overtime funds. Barger said the bus drivers will be certified.
"I don't like contract drivers," said board member Glenn Fulbright. "I understand we may have to use them because of finances."
Fulbright expressed concerns about the employees being placed under hiring standards and job performance like other CCS employees. CCS Assistant Superintendent of Operations Steve Demiter said all employees will be given a background check and random drug tests.
The board approved to find ways to reduce overtime in transportation, 6-1. Board member David Brittain opposed.
"Charlotte-Mecklenburg (Schools) used contract drivers, and the results were varied," Brittain said, adding there were some negative results from using the contracted bus drivers. "I don't like to follow suit."
Other CCS budget news
Also, the board approved to stick with its previous calendar set for the 2011-12 school year, even though the state legislature voted to add five days to the school year.
The board said the additional days will cost the school system $100,000 in transportation â€” $20,000 a day to put school buses on the road. In light of the additional funds needed, the board unanimously approved to make the five additional days used for staff development.
Chairwoman Joyce Spencer said making the days staff development is more "advantageous" because the opportunities are full training days for teachers, as opposed to half days or after school.
Board member Sherry Butler agreed the additional days are a positive move for North Carolina schools.
"Adding five days is a good idea," Butler said.
However, Butler said with the calendar already released to the public, she didn't think it was appropriate to change it mid-summer.
In other CCS news
The board unanimously approved to name Heather Benfield principal at Challenger Early College High School. Benfield was previously the assistant principal at Challenger, but will replace retired principal Dr. Eddy Daniels.
Barger said school officials are "weighing" options and looking at Challenger's structure before considering to fill the assistant principal position.
The board is considering options to avoid charging students $45 each to take driver's education in area high schools.
Barger said the state reduced the driver's education allotment per child and then added a provision for a school system to charge a student up to $45 to take the class. Barger said the board is reviewing available information to avoid charging students and plans to discuss the situation at its July 18 meeting.
School transfer requests will close Aug. 18. Demiter said the transfers will be determined by the maximum class size at each school as allowed by the state law.
In addition, Demiter said if a student transfers out of a school to move to another location, that opening will also be viewed as an open transfer spot at the first-attended school. An example, is if Balls Creek Elementary School had three students transfer out of the school, but already had three open transfer spots, this will leave the school with six available transfer positions for interested students.