Blount County school buses don't run due to budget cuts

Blount County school buses don't run due to budget cuts; parents frustrated

Posted:
School buses in Blount County did not run Friday morning due to a budget shortfall. School buses in Blount County did not run Friday morning due to a budget shortfall.
"Today, I'm having to get up a whole lot earlier to get here, plus I have to time it to where I'm not late for my job to get him here. And he's going to have to stand out here and wait for 35 or 40 minutes," said Mikell Johnson. "Today, I'm having to get up a whole lot earlier to get here, plus I have to time it to where I'm not late for my job to get him here. And he's going to have to stand out here and wait for 35 or 40 minutes," said Mikell Johnson.
Many parents had to get up before sunrise to get their kids to school on time. Many parents had to get up before sunrise to get their kids to school on time.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - Friday morning was busier than normal for some parents in Blount County. Friday the school system did not provide bus service due to a budget shortfall.

Parents had to get up long before the sunrise to get their kids to school on time. Since the Blount County school buses aren't running, Mikell Johnson had to drop her son off at Eagleton Middle School long before the bell rang.

"Today, I'm having to get up a whole lot earlier to get here, plus I have to time it to where I'm not late for my job to get him here. And he's going to have to stand out here and wait for 35 or 40 minutes," said Johnson.

Since the county's 73 buses were parked, some parents had to work together to find ways to get the kids to class. Beth Gibson worked out a carpool with friends.

"We got up a lot earlier and we helped out a friend of ours. She has three kids that normally ride the bus, so we got them and brought them on our way, so we helped her not be late for work," said Gibson.

Blount County Schools has an $8.6 million budget shortfall. It costs $17,000 a day for Blount county to run the buses. To save money, bus service won't be provided four days this school year. That means parents will have to find another way to get their kids to class three more times.

Some parents say the cancellation of bus service is frustrating. Blount County Spokesperson Nancy Kemp says she understands the parents' frustration.

"We do so apologize for the inconvenience that this has caused the parents," said Kemp.

The school system formerly had a balanced budget with federal stimulus dollars and reserve funds, but that money is no longer available. Voters rejected past tax increase proposals, but Kemp says a sales tax increase may be considered again in the future. Johnson just wants the issue resolved.

"I'd like to see the budget met. I'd like to see the bus services reinstated I know it's just one day every once in a while, but it's going to affect everything," said Johnson.

"Attendance is being taken, but if your family circumstances prevent you from being able to take your child to and from school, make sure to contact the principal.

Blount County Schools will not provide bus service on three more days this school year: Wednesday, Dec. 18; Tuesday, March 14; and Tuesday, May 20.

Special education buses will still run on all three dates.

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