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JTA to help get kids to school

At the Jackson-Madison County School Board work session in December, one of the discussed topics was a partnership with Jackson Transit Authority.

Deputy Superintendent Ricky Catlett, who’s director of operations for the district, laid out the parameters of the partnership.

“We started this partnership three or four months ago where we talked with JTA about trying to fill needs on our routes,” Catlett said. “And their supervisors said that if they can’t find the personnel to fill maybe they could help out.

“So it’s progressed to where in January we’ll start to have a JTA route in the morning only where students are picked up by a JTA bus and sent to North Parkway.”

Catlett said the partnership is simply a way to see if a partnership between JTA and JMCSS can help solve busing issues in the district.

The problem was worse last year as fewer bus drivers were taking routes and picking up students for school and taking them home that afternoon.

Catlett said the issue has improved this year.

“One thing is we’ve looked at our routes and where students are and basing our routes on where they live, and you have lower or higher percentages of kids that actually ride, and those numbers fluctuate,” Catlett said. “But with all that in mind, we’ve looked at the routes and condensed those as much as we could in a way that makes sense and gets kids to class.

“And like I told the board earlier, our current staff of drivers – we’ve never had a staff that’s done as much as this staff is doing with as little as they have to work with. We’ve got low numbers of drivers and on top of that, we’re dealing with sickness. If we have a few drivers call out sick, then that’s three to five routes affected each day.”

Catlett said he’s proud of the way the drivers help out as needed.

“If you have one of our radios, you can hear the conversations where someone is out and can someone get their route, and almost all the time, someone is picking up that route,” Catlett said. “And we’ll hopefully recruit more drivers because we’re advertising on radio, TV and newspaper. The word is out, so hopefully we’ll fill the gaps we need to fill.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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