GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The Guilford County Schools' Board of Education approved a measure Tuesday night at their meeting to create a district-wide transportation call center.
In the first 90 days of the school year, the district said the transportation department received more than 50,000 calls from parents trying to get information.
At the start of the school year, there were several issues with bus routes and bus driver shortages.
One Guilford County Schools parent said her children experience bus issues weekly. Mainly with pick-up and wait times, which causes her to worry.
"She's outside at 7:40, her bus is scheduled to come at 7:50, but it has come as early as 7:30 because of whatever reason, and it has been as late as 8:40, which leaves her at the bus stop an hour by herself," parent Monchell Baker said.
Her daughter, Khristian Akers is a 9th grader at Weaver Academy. She said it can be frustrating sometimes.
"Every single day I walk outside the same time 7:40 and never know what bus I'm going to get on," Akers said. "I'm always scared like maybe my bus already come and I already missed it because sometimes it comes early or I have to think I'll probably be standing out here for an hour."
Baker said she thinks a call center would be beneficial. The district hopes the call center would help parents with transportation needs.
In all, the service would cost around $852,000. There are several other items on the agenda that were also approved.
The school system said North End Teleservices is one of the top providers of call center services in the country. It's also, specially trained for school district transportation departments. The contract will provide 13 representatives from 6 a.m. – 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. – 9 p.m. to answer calls. They said the representatives will be able to utilize the district’s systems including routing and GPS to help solve problems.
The contract will be funded by savings from the transportation budget.
School leaders also approved to keep the mask mandate in place for students and staff even if Guilford County gets rid of its mandate next week. The school board will reevaluate the measure at its December meeting. Law requires school districts to vote monthly on whether the policy should be modified.
GCS also talked about teacher bonuses but did not approve any.
Some board members wanted to give bonuses, others said they think it would be a bandaid fix.
Superintendent Sharon Contreras will look at options and bring back a plan next month. She said she will only put forward a proposal that covers all 10,000 GCS employees.
She said creating a bonus would likely take funding away from something else and pointed out the district raised teacher pay over the summer.
School leaders also voted to approve adopting the same electoral district boundaries approved by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners on Nov. 4. They said having coterminous districts allows for shared information pertaining to specific geographic areas and schools. It also makes it easier to communicate with the public and educators, according to district leaders.
The Guilford County Board of Education will now submit its electoral boundaries to the State Board of Elections. The new electoral boundaries can be found here.