Elementary School Squabble

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School is less than a week away for some students in south Georgia, but not everyone is excited about the first day. Changes to the elementary school schedules and bus routes have parents in Lowndes County upset.

Parents say they feel like they've had a bomb dropped on them, and with school starting next week, some say they don't have enough time to reshuffle their schedules and make plans for after school care.

Jackson and Sophie are busy soaking in as much summertime fun as possible before school next week. Normally, mom is excited to have them back in school, but this year, new bus schedules mean Jackson and Sophie's older sister can't care for them after school, leaving mom in tough situation.

Sara Sumner, Jackson and Sophie's mom, says, "My oldest was our primary caregiver for our smaller children after school. Both my husband and I work until 5 or 6 in the evening."

The same problem is facing parents all over Lowndes County.

Jennifer Hattaway of the Lowndes County School Board says, "It's just something we are trying to do to, make our buses safer for younger students to keep the younger students on separate buses from the older students and to keep the older students off the elementary school campus."

But bus schedules aren't the only thing parents are concerned with. Many want to know why the school day at County Elementary School is 50 minutes shorter this year.

Tracy Keys says, "Nobody has been able to justify to me how they are going to meet the report cards with less school time."

Hattaway says, "We haven't taken out an hour. Basically, what we've done is made the school day more efficient by taking out a few small breaks that were scattered throughout the day, still leaving recess and lunch at the same time allotment."

Currently, the state of Georgia mandates 300 minutes of educational instruction for elementary school children each day.

School Board leaders say even with the new schedules, students in Lowndes County will still receive an extra 15 minutes of instruction every day.

School Board officials say they are working around the clock to address everyone's concerns and are hopeful everything will be resolved shortly.