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FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2007
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Kindergartners to start school at 7:45

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com ∑ 340-2432

ATHENS — Moms and dads will have to rouse your tykes out of bed a little earlier next year if they attend one of Athensí four elementary schools.

The Athens school board approved starting classes at 7:45 a.m. at Athens, Julian Newman, Brookhill and Cowart elementary school when the school year begins Aug. 9.

Maintenance and Transportation Director Donnie Powers said thatís 15 minutes earlier so the school systemís new bus system can get to elementary schools, as well as Athens Intermediate and Athens Middle schools, for breakfast.

The school day will, however, end at 2:45 p.m., so bus drivers can pick up elementary
students and get to the intermediate and middle schools by 3 p.m.

The adjustment of the school day schedule comes after the state Department of Education told Athens last October that it would pay $800,000 of the $1 million cost to start a bus service for kindergarten-through-eighth-grade students.

Powers has been a busy man in recent months. He had to pick 13 new bus drivers out of more than 30 applicants to join the four already on staff.

He ordered 14 new buses, which are getting air conditioning installed. He expects a July 1 delivery.

Now heís working on 17 bus routes, including the two special-education routes and a technical-school route. Powers said residents will start seeing the yellow school buses in their neighborhoods in the next few weeks.

School officials will be riding the routes with the new drivers, making stops as they will when school starts.

This gives the drivers practice while letting Powers time the routes and make sure drivers are not driving down roads that make it difficult to maneuver or dangerous for student pickup.

In related news, the school board approved a rental contract of $2,500 per month with the city of Athens to use the former sanitation site next to the National Guard Armory as a bus shop. The contract runs until 2010.

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