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The Edgefield County School District announced today that the school board has given final approval for the purchase of a new district activity bus to be used primarily by the elementary and middle schools located in the Merriwether area of the county.
Of particular importance for the Merriwether students, this bus will provide express transportation for those students living in the Merriwether area to and from Strom Thurmond High School.
The school district currently operates approximately forty eight (48) state buses and eight (8) district owned buses providing transportations for students to and from school and other related school activities such as field trips. Many do not know that the district does not actually own these buses. Instead, they are owned by the state and supplied to the district. The use of the buses comes with certain regulations that must be followed by the district. For example, buses are allowed to stop and pick up and return students at certain locations which must be approved by the state. Should the school district feel it necessary to make additional stops for security reasons or related matters, then the district has to pay the state pursuant to a formula which includes the price of fuel and the number of extra stops each bus takes. Last year, the school district paid the state approximately $21,000.00 for these extra stops.
In the case of the Merriwether students, the school board has been providing an “Express Bus” that allows the students to board the bus at one location and then be transported directly to Strom Thurmond High School. The bus does not return the students at the end of day. To help defray the cost for this extra service, students were charged a fee to ride the express bus. This practice of charging a fee was stopped earlier this year by the school board at the request of the school district administration.
The purchase of this new bus is another step taken by the school board to better accommodate students from the Merriwether area and to show that it is committed to providing support for all the schools specifically including the Merriwether area schools. School Board Chairman, Dr. Carroll Wates stated “We know that our Merriwether students have a long way to travel to attend Strom Thurmond High School and we feel the pain of the parents having to pay for the gas to make this trip every day. The best way we know to show that we are truly committed to helping solve this issue is to buy a bus specifically for these students”.
The school district has already ordered the bus so that it will be available when school starts in August. The bus will be a 2014 model and will be able to carry between 47-66 students depending on the actual size of the students according to the specifications listed on the bus itself. It will cost the district approximately $97,000. There will be no charge to the students who ride this bus as the school district will absorb all of these costs. The bus will transport the students to AND from Strom Thurmond High school rather than only to the school as express bus did last school year.
Superintendent Greg Anderson hopes that the purchase of this bus will eliminate one factor that students have to deal with in attending Strom Thurmond High School. “We have so many things to offer at Strom Thurmond” Anderson said. Most people are aware of the great tradition the high school has in sports but Anderson said that the high school attempts to have something for everybody. “Besides the sports tradition, our marching band, mock trial and F.F.A. teams have won State Championships. There is no better fine arts program anywhere in the state and our NJROTC program has a proud history as well. When you add to this the Career Center which offers an assortment of courses from welding to cosmetology, I do not believe there is a better high school anywhere” Anderson concluded.
Strom Thurmond High School also offers subjects that allow a student to receive “dual credits”. This simply means that a student will receive credit for some courses which will be applied to his or her high school diploma and simultaneously these students will receive credit for that course on a college level.
Anderson concluded “it would be a tragedy to deny a student a chance at the excellent opportunity available at Strom Thurmond High School because they could not afford to pay for the gas on a daily basis. The express bus solves this problem”.